Committee approves Verizon FiOS Philadelphia franchise agreement

A committee of the Philadelphia City Council has approved Verizon's plan to build a $1 billion FiOS network in the city; the full Council may approve the agreement in two weeks - assuming no other roadblocks appear.

Verizon's 15-year franchise agreement with the city of Philadelphia requires Verizon to cover the whole city with FiOS within seven years. The committee amended the agreement to give Philly's mayor more power to enforce minority contracting conditions. Verizon has committed to make $6.7 million in public access payments over the life of the contract.

Thursday's hearing was the third since early December before the Philadelphia City Council, and there has been heavy lobbying by cable-incumbent and home-town business Comcast against the FiOS agreement. Verizon fired back over the past month with newspaper and radio ads to try to pressure lawmakers to bring "cable choice" to the city.

Both Verizon and Comcast likely want to play nicer in the future, given the arrival of the Obama administration and new scrutiny over broadband issues.

For more:
- AP report via York Daily Record.
- Philly Metro article on Verizon's PR campaign in the City of Brotherly Love
- blogs on the City Council's move.

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