Correction to This Article
The Fast Forward column in the Sept. 27 Business section misstated the availability of Verizon's Fios Internet service in areas surrounding the District of Columbia. Verizon has not yet deployed it anywhere in the city of Alexandria, while it is available in at least parts of all the other jurisdictions adjacent to the District.

Fios in Your Neighborhood? Don't Ask Verizon

Verizon's fiber-optic network remains beyond District residents' reach.
Verizon's fiber-optic network remains beyond District residents' reach. (By Dennis Brack -- Bloomberg News)

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By Rob Pegoraro
Thursday, September 27, 2007

You'd be a little crazy to shop for a home without considering the Internet, phone and TV options awaiting in a new neighborhood. But good luck finding that out, especially when it comes to new services.

Consider the fuss over Verizon's Fios, which delivers fast Internet access as well as telephone and television service on fiber-optic wires. For customers who live out of the reach of DSL or have trees, buildings or hills blocking a satellite signal, it has been the first alternative to the local cable-TV monopoly.

But Verizon treats its plans for Fios like a state secret. Finding out when this service might show up at your door requires detective work or outright clairvoyance.

The worst such example may be in the District. Verizon has rolled out Fios in every surrounding jurisdiction, but D.C. residents are still waiting to hear when it might reach their homes.

Searching for service by typing in a District address on Verizon's Web site generated only a bland, meaningless assurance: "Our network is continually being expanded." Verizon's public relations department was no more informative.

"We've not announced plans at this point for D.C.," spokeswoman Christy Reap wrote in an e-mail. "Comcast would love to know our advance plans for the District, and we're not inclined to help them any sooner than we have to."

Verizon has been just as uncommunicative when responding to repeated requests for information from the D.C. government. "That really annoys me," said District People's Counsel Elizabeth A. Noel, who represents consumer interests with telephone and other utilities.

Fios service has to arrive in the District sometime, given that in August, Verizon filed an application with the city's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications to provide TV service. But you'd never know that from the company's public statements.

The District has plenty of company. Verizon routinely gives the silent treatment to customers awaiting its service.

You can find scraps of information on Verizon's state subsidiaries' Web sites. Verizon's Virginia site ( http://verizon.com/va) has a page that lists streets scheduled for Fios construction each month, but it doesn't provide block numbers to let you know which part of the Little River Turnpike or Carlin Springs Road is being upgraded.

Its Maryland site ( http://verizon.com/md) buries the same information three links away from the home page, though it also offers a low-resolution map of service in Montgomery County.

That's as far as it goes. The best clue of imminent Fios service remains a sighting of a Verizon truck with a Fios logo.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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