Herndon Wired, Ready for Cable TV From Verizon

Town of Herndon Council Member Harlon Reece watches cable recently installed by Verizon Communications Inc.
Town of Herndon Council Member Harlon Reece watches cable recently installed by Verizon Communications Inc. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)

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By Arshad Mohammed
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 19, 2005

It took six hours to hook up Jeff Dorman's 50-inch set to Verizon's new TV service but, in the end, he was pleased.

"Drag racing in high-def -- I'm in heaven," the Herndon resident said as he watched Formula One cars zip down a track in crisp color.

Dorman's Herndon basement -- with two computers, two phone lines and a huge TV -- is one of the sites where a new era in telecommunications is dawning. Verizon Communications Inc., a phone company, is unveiling its cable TV service, even as cable companies are marketing Internet telephone technology. The industry's biggest powers are fighting over increasingly wired consumers such as Dorman, dueling to offer them bundled suites of phone, TV and Internet service.

Verizon plans to announce next week that parts of Herndon are fully wired and ready to become the second market in the nation where its Fios TV service is available, offering some Northern Virginia consumers fresh competition and the promise of lower prices.

For Verizon, the cable that it has been laying in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and 13 other states is a multibillion-dollar lifeline it hopes will save the company as its traditional telephone business dies off.

But it will be years, if ever, before Verizon turns a profit on its huge investment.

"Verizon is betting its future on Fios," said Banc of America Securities LLC analyst David W. Barden. "The risk . . . is that it is overspending for the reward it will ultimately receive."

It will also be competing with cable companies that have far more TV experience and can add Internet and phone service for less than Verizon is spending on its new network.

Cox Communications Inc., the cable provider in Herndon and most of Fairfax County, dismissed the new service from Verizon.

"What Verizon has been talking about for the past several months is something we have been doing now for well over a year," Cox spokesman Alexander N. Horwitz said. "We believe that we offer a video, voice and data solution that has proven quite popular with consumers in Fairfax County. . . . Verizon is simply playing catch-up."

For Dorman, the single, slender fiber-optic cable that now brings him TV, phone and Internet service is a way to cut his bills by getting all three from one company.

Dorman and his wife, Vicky, expect to buy the services -- which now run them about $260 dollars a month -- for $151.85 plus an estimated $12.30 in taxes, fees and surcharges. They don't know the exact cost, because Verizon has not given them a detailed estimate and they have not gotten their first bill.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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