The Manatee County Commission today voted for consumer choice and competition in the cable-TV market by awarding a far-reaching video franchise to Verizon for its FiOS TV product, to be delivered via its new, all-fiber network.
This is the largest population to be served by a Verizon franchise agreement so far. Manatee joins Temple Terrace as the second municipality in Florida to grant a franchise to Verizon as the company continues its campaign to be permitted to deliver television services to customers in its service territory.
The commission's decision means that Verizon now has the authority to offer FiOS TV to the 235,000 residents in the unincorporated portions of the county. It is anticipated that a portion of these residents will begin enjoying stepped-up competition and more consumer choice to the region's existing cable-TV and satellite services by 2006. The franchise does not apply to other communities in the county, including the cities of Bradenton, Palmetto, Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key.
"This agreement represents a huge leap forward for consumers in Manatee County," said Alan Ciamporcero, Verizon's Southeast region president. "It moves the county, along with Temple Terrace, to the leading edge of a new era for video and broadband services in Florida. County leadership understands how the market has changed and that consumers want competition and choice for video and broadband services sooner rather than later.
"Verizon commends Manatee's progressive attitude. We look forward to further building out our fiber network and witnessing the economic benefits it will produce for the county."
Verizon has placed 1.8 million feet of fiber thus far to serve Manatee County. When the fiber network is completed, residents will enjoy FiOS broadband products that deliver very fast data speeds ranging from up to 5 Mbps to up to 30 Mbps (megabits per second). Verizon will introduce its FiOS TV product in North Texas later this year, adding additional communities as franchises are obtained.
Verizon's Manatee County franchise will provide an unrivaled video service to county residents. Under the agreement, which covers 15 years, Verizon will provide FiOS TV to portions of Manatee County where Verizon's fiber network is currently under construction. Verizon will extend FiOS TV to additional geographic areas within the county as wire centers are completed.
In addition, the agreement contains provisions for the network's future growth; financial support and capacity for educational and governmental access channels; support for a future institutional network (I-NET) that can link schools, libraries and other institutions; cable service to government buildings at no cost; and other important benefits including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.
Verizon FiOS TV will deliver hundreds of digital video and music channels, high-definition programming, video-on-demand content, a robust interactive programming guide and other customer-friendly features. Verizon is constructing its fiber-optic network in 15 states, or more than half the states where it offers landline communications services.
Customers will be able to buy FiOS TV as a stand-alone service or packaged with voice and FiOS high-speed data services, which are already available in some areas. Verizon has announced content commitments with major and independent network groups, including NBC Universal Cable, Starz Entertainment Group, Showtime Networks, A&E Television Networks, Discovery Networks, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. (including CNN, among other Turner offerings), Varsity TV, Black Family Channel, SiTV and NFL Network, and is close to finalizing agreements with several other major content-partners.