Ingalls Urges Change in Telecom Law to Reflect Technology Convergence and Speed Video Competition
Verizon Retail Markets President Robert Ingalls told members of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications April 20th that his company is poised to provide customers with a new competitive choice in television service, but that current regulatory requirements threaten to delay the benefits for consumers.
The new service, called FiOS TV, will be offered later this year over Verizon’s new fiber-to-the-premises broadband network, which is capable of delivering 100 megabits downstream and up to 15 megabits upstream.
"We think customers are really going to like the upstream capacity that will connect them to a world of multi-media and interactive possibilities," Ingalls said. "Families will be able to quickly and easily produce, store, send and share home videos and pictures with friends across the country. Other interactive possibilities include 3-D gaming, video-on-demand, online shopping, real-time polling, even setting camera angles while watching sporting events."
However, Verizon could be delayed in bringing FiOS TV to market by outmoded laws and a cumbersome, redundant local franchising process, he said.
What is urgently needed, he said, is a national broadband policy to "promote broadband deployment, new technologies and increased investment by any provider."
"As a local telephone company, Verizon has a franchise to operate networks," Ingalls said. "Yet we’re being asked to obtain a second franchise to use that same network to offer consumers a choice in video. We believe this redundant franchise process is unnecessary and will delay effective video competition for years unless a federal solution is enacted soon."
He stressed that Verizon is sensitive to the needs and concerns of local communities regarding such matters as franchise fees, local access and public interest content and would continue to work to address them.
Ingalls said that Verizon is the first communications company to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises architecture – "the fastest, most interactive network deployed anywhere in America" – in more than 250 communities in half the states where Verizon offers landline communications service. "Our plan is to reach 3 million homes by the end of 2005, with further expansion as fast as technology and the marketplace will allow," he said.
The tremendous capacity of the fiber system has room for hundreds of digital video channels, including local programming, high-definition TV and on-demand programs. This will enable Verizon to offer television and interactive video services, in competition with incumbent cable TV and satellite operators.
The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are scheduled to examine new legislation that would update the Telecommunications Act of 1996, making it relevant to the rapid technology developments that have taken place in the past decade.