Verizon won’t bring fiber-optic TV to Capital Region

As Verizon Communications finishes spending millions on fiber-optic upgrades across the state this y

As Verizon Communications finishes spending millions on fiber-optic upgrades across the state this year, the Capital Region will not be among the markets receiving access to FiOS TV, the company confirmed Tuesday.

FiOS TV is a fiber-optic network supplying hundreds of digital channels, on-demand titles, local high-definition channels and other features that rival a similar product currently offered by Time Warner, which dominates this area’s pay TV market.

Verizon’s FiOS initiative began around 2004 with an objective of reaching 18 million households. The company has been averaging 3 million per year, passing 15.4 million by the end of 2009, according to a company official.

“So we are fast approaching our stated objective,” Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said in an e-mail.

“We do have FiOS in several Capital Region communities,” he explained. “We do not, however, have any franchises to provide FiOS TV.”

Verizon said the company is focusing on fulfilling commitments contained in franchise agreements with areas like Syracuse, Buffalo and New York City.

“All of our franchise agreements — from the immense NYC to the small towns and villages — have build-out commitments to completely FiOS-ize their towns,” Bonomo said.

In most cases, the time to build-out is five years, but New York City gave Verizon six years, until 2014, Bonomo said.

“We’re focusing our attention on marketing and selling FiOS in the markets where it is available and will be available through our remaining build-out,” Bonomo said. “Now it’s about growth and selling FiOS in our markets where it’s available. … We intend to sell the heck out of it.”

Verizon experienced considerable growth in FiOS Internet and TV subscriptions in 2009.

Company documents show that there were 3.4 million FiOS Internet subscribers at the end of 2009, a 34 percent increase over 2008, as well as 2.9 million FiOS TV subscribers, an increase of 49 percent over 2008. The penetration rates for FiOS TV and Internet subscribers in 2009 were 28.1 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively.

Efforts are under way to make the FiOS platform more competitive.

“Initiatives are under way to leverage this technology to deliver video applications, ‘widgets’ and interactivity with television, including access to social networking sites and access to Internet video sites,” Verizon said in a quarterly report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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