Verizon Files for Texas-Wide Franchise

Verizon Communications Inc. has formally filed for its state franchise in Texas, naming 21 communities that will be offered its Verizon FiOS TV service by the end of 2006.

The Sept. 30 application takes advantage of a newly approved state telecommunications law that allows the state Public Utilities Commission to issue blanket operating authority rather than forcing a competitor to seek city-by-city agreements.

The change applies to newcomers only, which is why the state cable association filed a federal suit to stop the governor and the PUC from acting under the new law.

That suit has just begun to run its course, and Kathy Grant, vice president of the Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association, said the lobbying group has no current plans to seek a restraining order to prevent Verizon's state franchise application. Verizon is not a party to the suit over the new law.

Under the new law, SB5, an applicant must submit a request for franchise, stating its qualifications to operate a cable system and its efforts to comply with Federal Communications Commission policy. The state PUC will review the application and issue a franchise within 17 business days.

All of the communities targeted for service are in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex -- markets currently served by incumbents including Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. Those cities are Allen, Carrollton, Colleyville, Coppell, Denton, Double Oak, Flower Mound, Garland, Grapevine, Hebron, Highland Village, Irving, Lewisville, Lucas, Murphy, Parker, Plano, Rowlett, Southlake and St. Paul.