Verizon extends D.C. FiOS wait, as AT&T-San Francisco cabinet battle continues

The growth of competitive wireline television services in two U.S. markets has taken an interesting turn: In Washington, D.C., Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said it would change a nine-year FiOS rollout plan to 10 years. And in San Francisco, citizens are getting some legislative support in a battle against AT&T's (NYSE: T) placement of cabinets necessary to deliver U-verse service.

Verizon's move to push its fiber buildout back to at least 2019 is within its rights under a franchise agreement with the D.C. Office of Cable Television (OCT) that provided a 12-month extension if the carrier hadn't reached 30 percent video penetration by Oct. 20, 2013.

Even though by the end of 2013 FiOS services were available to nearly 80,000 homes and businesses in the District, it wasn't enough, a story in the Washington Business Journal said. That, OCT leaders told the publication, could be because landlords didn't tell their tenants that FiOS is available.

The OCT is now "contacting the landlords to inform that they are required to allow all franchise cable television providers to service their residents," the newspaper reported.

A Verizon spokeswoman defended Verizon's delay in an e-mail to the newspaper.

"Verizon has completed the first phase and the second phase is now underway (sic). Under the negotiated terms of the franchise agreement with the District, Verizon's cable service deployment obligations were subject to a one-year extension under certain specified conditions. And we notified the city that we were exercising that extension," Sandra Arnette wrote to the publication.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, those pesky cabinets continue to rankle the masses in San Francisco where the plan to install 725 of them was originally delayed. In 2011, the city told AT&T to go ahead, but now there's legislation that "would require companies to at least try to place new boxes off public streets (such as underground, on private properties or in alleyways), to force them to allow artwork on the boxes and to pay for greening around them," a story in DSL Reports said.

The legislation would also require AT&T and other utilities to hold public meetings as part of a pre-application process to let neighbors weigh in on the deal.

AT&T's not particularly pleased. Its lawyers claim that the new proposed legislation violates state law in "10 different ways" and that murals would "damage AT&T property," DSL Reports said.

Ugly or not, the cabinets should be installed because Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is "in desperate need of competition," said City Supervisor Scott Weiner.

For more:
- the Washington Business Journal has this story
- DSL Reports has this story

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