We here in Orange County were one of the first in the country to get Verizon FiOS TV and Internet service. It excited many readers who looked forward to 50 mbps Internet service and an alternative to cable TV. Then last year, we found out that the company stopped expanding to new areas locally in order to concentrate on where it already built the infrastructure (read: “Verizon’s FiOS TV rollout slows in So Cal“).
Now it looks like the same is true in East Coast cities of New York and Philadelphia, where Verizon made a big push for FiOS after jilting us here in O.C. Bill Kula, part of Verizon’s media relations group, wrote in the company’s At Home blog that Verizon is focusing on “increasing FiOS availability in those areas where we already have video franchises in place.”
Some interpret this to mean that if you don’t live in an existing FiOS-friendly neighborhood, it’s not coming anytime soon. It’s difficult not to make that assumption especially if you’ve been checking the FiOS availability site for the last couple of years only to get the same “Not available, but we do have DSL…”
Still, Verizon is sticking to the interpretation that FiOS hasn’t slowed down. In fact, Verizon is right where it had expected to be. Kula emphasizes that the company is on track to meet its goal of reaching 18 million premises by the end of 2010.
“At the end of the last quarter, we had 3.4 million FiOS Internet customers and 2.9 million FiOS TV customers. That’s a national penetration rate of 28 percent for FiOS Internet and 25 percent for FiOS TV – a very healthy growth clip for a service that we began selling from scratch nearly five years ago. That makes us the 8th largest among cable and satellite providers, some of whom have been in the business for decades,” Kula writes.
A reminder: When FiOS does enter a new neighborhood and starts selling TV door to door, the local cable TV company does the same, matching or beating FiOS rates. And we know FiOS isn’t cheap. Verizon, apparently, isn’t getting the kind of reception it had anticipated as it discovers that potential customers just signed long-term contracts with their existing TV service.
But those contracts, especially in Orange County, are approaching the 2-year mark so Verizon is going after those customers again. We saw some evidence that FiOS really is still expanding when the company announced earlier this month that FiOS added 166,000 new households in California last year (read: Verizon says FiOS now available to 1.2 million in SoCal).
I’m awaiting the latest word from my Verizon sources on more specific availability here in Orange County. Perhaps now that Verizon is no longer concerned about applying for new video franchises on the East Coast, it can finish what it started here. In Orange County, FiOS is available in some parts of Brea, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Stanton, Westminster and certain unincorporated areas.
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