Verizon Is Now a 2nd Option in Charles for Internet/TV Service

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comcast now has competition in Charles County.

After reaching an agreement with the county this spring to offer its TV services, Verizon has begun offering its FiOS TV and Internet service to about 8,000 homes and businesses in Waldorf and La Plata. Verizon also agreed to a build-out that will bring its broadband services to other areas of the county, company officials said.

"It's a tremendous capital investment," said Joseph Daniels, assistant vice president for external affairs for Verizon. "The demand is there; there's no doubt about that. That's why we have to continue to look at new technology."

Whether the competition between the two companies will bring lower rates to consumers remains to be seen. But in the short run, residents will have a choice for Internet and TV service.

FiOS has not reached Calvert or St. Mary's counties, and Verizon officials said they could not provide a timeline for when the service might be available there. Comcast offers its full range of services to most of Charles and Calvert counties and parts of St. Mary's.

In an e-mail, a Comcast spokeswoman said the company is accustomed to competition.

"We compete every day for video, Internet and phone customers throughout our footprint, and continue to offer advanced products and services on a reliable, robust, scalable fiber network that was built for the future," said Aimee N. Metrick, director of public relations for the company's Eastern U.S. division.

"From a competitive standpoint, we are very confident in our network, and in the products and services we deliver today."

The 15-year franchise agreement calls for Verizon to contribute 5 percent of its gross annual revenue from the TV part of the service to the county, in addition to providing financial support for education and government channels and the county's institutional network.

Comcast has had a similar franchise agreement with Charles since 2002.

Wayne Cooper (D-At Large), president of the Charles Board of Commissioners, said that during a meeting last year of the Maryland Association of Counties, he met a Verizon representative who mistakenly thought the county had an exclusive contract with Comcast.

Cooper said the competition between the companies will pay off. "I think that for economic development, it will be great," he said.

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