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Fios TV moves closer to reality in New York

A New York commission votes to allow Verizon to offer Fios TV in the five boroughs.


On Tuesday, the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) of New York voted unanimously to approve Verizon's proposal to provide Fios TV service in all five boroughs. The vote moves the service closer to becoming an option for customers in New York to choose over cable or satellite TV.

"If we are successful in the last steps of the approval process, we will deliver on our promise to begin offering Fios TV in parts of each of the five boroughs later this year," Monica Azare, Verizon senior vice president for New York and Connecticut, said in a press release.

Fios TV is available in numerous areas around the city, including suburbs in Long Island and New Jersey, but inside city limits cable providers Time Warner and Cablevision basically divvy up the five boroughs between them (RCN cable is available in select places, too) and no alternative aside from satellite is currently available. Worse, many apartment buildings won't allow satellite dish installs, and many of those that do are blocked by other buildings, making the satellite signals impossible to receive.

If nothing else, competition from Fios TV may force the cable providers to offer more competitive pricing or at least improve their channel offerings. But as a recent New York Times piece makes clear, New Yorkers shouldn't expect to see lower cable prices as soon as Fios TV arrives. "There is a little jostling at the beginning, but it's not like classical competition where you have 10 guys trying to figure out how to steal each other's customers," said Mark Cooper, the director of research at the Consumer Federation of America. "When you have just two players, they realize it's not in their best interests to have a price war."

And then there's the issue of actually wiring New York buildings for fiber optics. Verizon has been running fiber optic cable since 2004, according to Multichannel News, and supposedly has wired hundreds of apartment buildings already, which might amount to as many as 20 percent of the city's buildings. Nonetheless, Verizon executives admit they won't have the infrastructure in place to wire every home in the city until 2014, although if the approval goes through, parts of New York may get access to Fios TV as early as this year.

What do you think? Are you ready to dump your cable service for Fios as soon as it arrives in your town, or are you a current Fios TV subscriber who's happy (or otherwise) with your service?