Verizon pressured to expand FiOS in New Jersey

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) officials defended the company's decision to halt new construction for its FiOS network this week at public hearing in New Jersey Thursday, where its statewide franchise is up for renewal.

"Verizon has satisfied all of its current franchise requirements,'' Verizon attorney William Smith said at the hearing in Trenton, the state's capital, noting that the company offers FiOS in 355 municipalities in 19 counties. New Jersey Board of Public Utilities officials agreed that the telco has met terms of the franchise it was granted in 2006, according to a report on local news site NJ Spotlight.

Verizon announced in 2010 that it would stop expanding FiOS to new markets and only build its fiber-to-the-home network in areas where it had already signed franchise deals. Consumer groups and government officials in several cities have protested that decision, including Boston, Baltimore and Buffalo, N.Y.

Verizon is able to market bundles containing subscription video in areas outside its FiOS footprint through deals its Verizon Wireless subsidiary has with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Cox Communications. The telco could eventually distribute FiOS programming using wireless broadband technology such as its 4G network. It also sells video-on-demand movies and TV shows online through its Redbox Instant by Verizon joint venture.

A union official attending Verizon's franchise renewal hearing asked state officials to push Verizon to expand FiOS, a move which would help the Verizon employees he represents. "We have witnessed customers chasing down Verizon service trucks requesting service only to be disappointed that their homes were on a street excluded from the FiOS buildout," said International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local Chapter President Robert Speer, according to the report.

For more:
NJ Spotlight has this story

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