Verizon files suit against Montgomery County, MD, over cable franchising

Verizon filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court last month alleging that Montgomery County, MD, is violating antitrust law and its First Amendment rights with its cable franchising rules.

Filed in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, MD, the suit asks the court to strike down the county’s cable franchise rules and compel it to begin negotiating an agreement with the telecommunications company in 60 days. A Verizon attorney has characterized a year of negotiations with the county to provide its FiOS fiber-optic cable competitor as “fruitless.”

According to Bruce Romer, chief administrative officer for the county, Verizon has met with the county regarding a cable franchise but has not submitted an application. Essentially, Verizon is “challenging a process, which applies to their competitors but which they have not yet officially entered,” he said in a statement.

The lawsuit shows Verizon is “unwilling to play by the same rules that apply to their cable competitors,” he said. Montgomery County has granted cable franchises to two operators, Comcast and RCN, under the rules that have been in place since 1982.

The county plans to “vigorously defend” the “lawful process,” said Romer.