FiOS Fights Comcast in Philadelphia

Verizon Communication is aiming to have FiOS TV ready to light up for nearly 50,000 Philadelphia homes and small businesses by the end of the year, as the telco starts to aggressively market triple-play bundles against Comcast in the cable operator's front yard.

Verizon is touting FiOS TV's lineup of more than 600 channels, including 130 HD channels, in Philadelphia — whereas Comcast currently offers 49 HD channels in the city, according to its Web site.

The telco is making FiOS TV and FiOS Internet available in three areas of Philly: parts of Chestnut Hill, South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia. Verizon, which last week announced the official launch in the city, actually began “soft-marketing” the service there about a month ago, spokesman Rich Young said. Verizon will initiate door-to-door marketing and place print ads around the FiOS launch in The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, Young added.

Under the terms of its 15-year franchise with the city, Verizon will bring service to all areas of Philadelphia within seven years. The telco expects that it will be able to offer FiOS service to about 660,000 living units when the fiber-to-the-premises buildout is completed in 2016.

Verizon will offer Philadelphia residents who are FiOS TV-eligible a triple play starting at $99.99 per month with a 24-month contract. In addition, customers who sign up for a qualifying FiOS service before Dec. 19 are eligible for a $150 Visa gift card and a free Home Media DVR for three months. The telco currently offers those same sign-up incentives and offers across all FiOS markets.

Comcast Freedom Region spokesman Jeff Alexander noted that the cable operator already has been competing with FiOS TV in the Philadelphia suburbs for about three years. “As the phone company announces service for small pockets of the city, we'll continue to innovate and offer products to all parts of Philadelphia,” Alexander said.

Pali Research media analyst Rich Greenfield noted that Verizon is carrying Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia in standard- and high-definition formats, which are unavailable to DirecTV and Dish Network.

“While it will certainly take time for Verizon to expand the availability of FiOS throughout Comcast's greater Philadelphia footprint, we believe FiOS's ability to offer Comcast SportsNet gives it a unique opportunity to offer competition to Comcast within Philadelphia,” Greenfield wrote.