If you can’t beat them, buy them

Verizon is doing its very best to roll out IPTV services on its spanking new FIOS network. Its mega-billion dollar investment could come cropper, if the company fails to get franchisee licenses from various different municipalities. So far, local governments have not played ball, but Verizon might have found a way out, reports The Wall Street Journal. The plan is simple – if the company gets a statewide approval, instead of knocking on every muni’s door, it will pay them 3% of annual television revenues, rather than 2%. The program is being put to test in New Jersey first. I find this logic hard to argue with. More money in these tough times? Why not? But also worry that this could come out of consumer pockets somehow or the other! (Can anyone elaborate on this?)

This development comes a day after a nasty he-said-she-said battle between cable and phone operators at a public hearing in Edison, NJ. Franklin Lakes Mayor Thomas Donch says Verizon will not be able to offer a local children’s sports game broadcast, so why bother. “I’m all for competition,” said Donch, “but I’m not sure that all the concerns can be addressed in the state Legislature.” A county-by-county, muni-by-muni license scheme would ensure that Verizon cannot roll out its IPTV service till mid-2006, a scary development. Meanwhile, NY Public Service Commission voted 4-0 to reject a March request from the likes of Cablevision and local governments who contend that VZ cannot build the network unless it has all the licensess, reports The Albany Times

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