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Verizon, District Reach Deal on FiOS

Monica Norton

The District and Verizon Communications have reached an agreement to bring the company's FiOS high-speed Internet service to the city.

Eric Richardson, director of D.C. Office of Cable Television, said the agreement requires approval by the mayor's office and the D.C. Council, a process he said could be completed by the end of the year. Richardson said negotiations took nine months, less time than it has taken the District to work out previous cable franchise agreements.

The Office of Cable Television plans to deliver the 30- to 50-page agreement to the District's Office of the Attorney General by tomorrow afternoon. After a legal review, the agreement will be sent to the mayor's office.

D.C. residents have been expressing interest in getting the service, Richardson said. "We get quite a few calls," he said.

A spokesman for Verizon, Harry Mitchell, said his company looks forward to introducing the service soon. "We are excited about this. Washington is a great market for us," he said.

Even after Verizon begins installing the service, completely deploying the fiber-optic network across the District could take years. Verizon began setting up FiOS, which delivers high-speed Internet access and telephone and television service, in most jurisdictions around Washington two years ago.

"In suburban areas it's relatively easier to install, because you're not working on busy city streets," said Mitchell, who said the District will be one of the first major metropolitan areas to get the service. Verizon and New York City reached an agreement over FiOS deployment last month.

In the District, Verizon's entry should provide competition for Comcast, which has been the city's dominant cable provider.

Comcast spokeswoman Jaye P. Linnen wrote in an e-mail yesterday that "competition is not new to Comcast." According to Linnen, Comcast invested more than $290 million in its Washington area networks in 2007.

"The phone company is simply trying to catch up to where we have been for years," she wrote.

By Mike Musgrove  |  August 7, 2008; 3:35 PM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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