Sarasota County today became the eighth jurisdiction in Florida to endorse consumer choice and competition in the cable-TV market when the county commissioners voted to award a far-reaching franchise to Verizon
for its FiOS TV product, to be delivered via its new, digital all-fiber network.
The franchise, which could potentially bring competition and consumer choice to over 246,000 residents in the county, makes Florida one of Verizon's most competitive frontiers for FiOS services. As the fiber network is built, the Sarasota franchise, combined with Verizon's franchises for Temple Terrace, Tampa, Oldsmar, Manatee County, Bradenton, Hillsborough County and Pasco County, will enable over 1.8 million residents in Verizon's Florida service territory to enjoy stepped-up competition and more consumer choice for video services in the region.
"Today's franchise in Sarasota County highlights the end of a very successful first phase for Verizon's cable-TV program in Florida," said Alan Ciamporcero, Verizon's Southeast region president. "We will continue to seek franchises elsewhere, but we will be concentrating on broadening our deployment of fiber in those areas where we have TV franchises.
"In Sarasota, the County Commission and members of the county's staff have worked diligently to amend their cable ordinance and to craft a fair and reasonable franchise that recognizes how technology has changed the market," continued Ciamporcero. "That helps Verizon bring competition, choice, value and industry-leading fiber technology to Sarasota County's residents, who are the real winners from today's decision."
Verizon will offer FiOS TV shortly to residents in a northernmost area of the county that Verizon refers to as Sarasota Northside. Residents in other areas will begin to receive service starting in 2007. Service will be extended throughout the initial service area within five years of the initial offering. The franchise covers portions of the unincorporated areas of the county and does not include the cities of Sarasota, Longboat Key, Venice and North Port.
"We look forward to expanding our fiber network and bringing its benefits to more county residents as quickly as possible," Ciamporcero added.
As 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). Already, some residents in Sarasota Northside and Siesta Key have access to the high-speed broadband connections. Verizon, which launched FiOS TV last September, also offers the service in parts of California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Texas and Virginia.
When Verizon reported its 2006 first-quarter earnings, the company noted that it has achieved a 10 percent penetration of FiOS TV-eligible households in its Florida market overall. In Temple Terrace, market penetration is 16 percent since FiOS TV was introduced in that community in December.
The 15-year agreement contains provisions for:
- Two public, educational and governmental (PEG) access channels now and as many as six later.
- A Community Needs Pass Through Grant in support of PEG channels, starting at 53 cents per subscriber in years one through three and potentially increasing to as much as $1.50 per subscriber over the life of the franchise, as determined by community need.
- Cable service to over 85 schools and to certain government buildings at no cost; and other important benefits including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.