Philly Council OKs Verizon FiOS TV

Verizon Communications got some brotherly love in Comcast's home town of Philadelphia, with the city council Thursday unanimously approving the 15-year franchise agreement that will allow the telco to sell FiOS TV to residents.

The telco, under the terms of the cable franchise, will make FiOS TV available throughout the city over the next seven years. The ordinance still requires Mayor Michael Nutter to sign the legislation into law.

"We urge Mayor Nutter to sign the ordinance expeditiously so that Verizon can start bringing the many benefits of cable TV choice to Philadelphia residents in 2009," Verizon Pennsylvania president Gale Given said in a statement.

Like Comcast, Verizon would pay the city a 5% franchise fee. According to the franchise, Verizon's performance may be reviewed annually and it is required to have a local service manager and offices, among other local customer service obligations.

In addition, the agreement requires Verizon to pay into the public access coffers, but not until the fifth year of its franchise pact. After that date, Verizon would pay grants of $1 million for educational access, $1.5 million for government access and $2.7 million for public access.

Verizon claims it will offer "twice as many high-definition channels" as Comcast in Philadelphia. The telco delivers at least 100 HD channels in all its markets. Comcast in Philadelphia offers 34 HDs, according to the MSO's Web site.