Published on Save Access (

Verizon Letter to Massachusetts Municipal Leaders

By saveaccess
Created 01/11/2007 - 9:18am

This letter was sent by Verizon to a 'municipal leader' in Massachusetts - but it reads like a 'Dear John' letter to the access community. Note the issues: PEG support is capped at 1% which will hurt many Massachusetts PEG acccess centers. There is no mention of iNet support (institutional networks) or possible interconnect fees. Also missing are any promise of build-out (redlining) requirements. Then there is the absurd 15 day shot clock to approve applications.

Dear Municipal Leader,

I write to share good news about the future of cable television service in Massachusetts.

In response to demand from consumers who want a choice for TV service, we support legislation filed this week to streamline the cable TV franchising process in the Commonwealth. This is welcome relief for consumers who want real choice among cable TV providers.

The Massachusetts Cable Choice and Competition Act will accelerate cable competition in Massachusetts by allowing cable TV providers to apply to the Department of Telecommunications and Energy for permission to offer cable TV service.

While the bill streamlines the application process, it leaves intact local benefits, including franchise fees paid to municipalities, financial support for public, educational, and government channels, and free cable service at municipal buildings. Municipalities also retain full authority over their rights-of-way. In addition to streamlining the process for new competitors, the bill will enable current cable providers to apply for licenses to expand their footprint by entering new markets.

This legislation also is good for economic development in our state. The bill will spur innovation, provides incentives for investment, and help retain and create jobs in Massachusetts.

Highlights of the bill include:

· Cable TV providers apply to the Cable Division of the Department of Energy and Telecommunications for a state-issued cable TV franchise for the areas they intend to offer service. The franchise must be updated whenever the service is expanded to additional areas.

· The Cable Division has 15 days to approve an application.

· Existing local franchise agreements are grandfathered until they expire or unless both sides agree to terminate.

· Municipalities maintain their public right-of-way authority and their control over the content of public, educational, and government access channels.

· Municipalities can set franchise fees up to the federal maximum of 5 percent of gross cable TV revenues from each subscriber.

· Municipalities can also create an additional fee to support the capital equipment needed to support Public, Education and Government (PEG) channels. The fee will match on a per-subscriber basis the support provided by the incumbent provider, or when the incumbent agreement expires, the municipality can set this fee at no more than 1 percent of gross revenues from each subscriber.

· New cable TV providers will carry the same number of PEG channels as the incumbent provider.

· Communities will continue to receive free TV service at all municipal buildings.

· New cable TV providers cannot deny service to residents based on income.

· Incumbent cable providers like Comcast, Charter, Time Warner and others can use the new rules to more easily compete with each other or serve any of the 43 Massachusetts communities without cable service.

Verizon is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in our fiber optic network in Massachusetts, which is delivering true cable competition to more than 200,000 potential subscribers in 35 communities. We will continue to invest in this network expand our reach to more consumers in Massachusetts in 2007.

This legislation is the right approach for the Commonwealth in the 21st century. It will enable Verizon as well as other providers the ability to expand technology investment to consumers in many more Massachusetts communities. We hope you will support this initiative.

We will continue to provide you with updates on this process. In the meantime,if you have any questions please let me know.


Carol Baribeau
Regional Director of External Affairs

Source URL: