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Verizon Fires Up 100 HDs For New York Invasion

Verizon Communications officially launched video service in New York City, announcing Monday it will offer 100 high-definition channels to FiOS TV customers in the area as it looks to carve into the core businesses of Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems.

The telco is initially offering FiOS TV to about 300,000 households in parts of 108 neighborhoods -- targeting 500,000 by the end of 2008 -- and said it will start installing the service in customers' homes beginning Wednesday.

With the New York City launch, Verizon is offering a FiOS triple-play bundle for $94.99 per month, which includes TV service with 54 HD channels, Internet service with 20 megabits per second downstream and 5 Mbps upstream, and local and long-distance calling.

Doreen Toben, Verizon’s chief financial officer, said today on the telco’s earnings call that the FiOS network already passes 25% of 3.1 million households targeted in New York City, or about 775,000. The company is aiming to pass 900,000 premises by end of 2008.

Verizon’s goal is to offer FiOS TV to 98% of residences passed on Staten Island by the end of 2008, and 57% of residences passed in Manhattan by year end.

About 2 million of the 3.1 million premises targeted in New York City are multidwelling units. Verizon said it has wired about 800 MDUs to date, using bendable fiber that can curve through tight spaces without loss of the fiber signal.

FiOS TV’s 100 HD channels would outstrip lineups from Cablevision, which has promised 60 HD channels as of Aug. 1, as well as Time Warner Cable, which offers 55 but is aiming to provide 100 by the end of 2008.

The HD channels for FiOS TV customers in the New York metro area include high-definition versions of Animal Planet, TLC, FX, USA, Bravo, TBS, History Channel, Weather Channel, Science Channel, Sci Fi Channel, Smithsonian Channel, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel.

Other HD additions include QVC, the Travel Channel, Planet Green, Disney Channel and Toon Disney. Premium movie channels in high-definition include 11 from Cinemax, a baker's dozen from HBO and 13 from The Movie Channel, Starz and Showtime Networks.

HD sports channels include Yes Network, SportsNet New York, Big Ten Network, Versus/Golf Channel, Outdoor Channel 2 and World Fishing Network.

However, FiOS TV will not carry the HD version of the Cablevision-owned MSG regional sports network. Verizon blames Cablevision (opens in new tab) for claiming that the cable company is not required to offer the HD feed because it routes that signal over fiber rather than satellite. Verizon is appealing to the Federal Communications Commission to obtain MSG HD.

The new channel lineup will be offered to existing FiOS TV markets in the New York metropolitan area, including parts of Long Island, the suburbs just north of the city, and northern New Jersey. Verizon spokeswoman Heather Wilner said customers will have access to "at least 100 HD channels within the week."

FiOS TV’s launch in New York City comes after Verizon cleared the final regulatory hurdle July 16 with the New York Public Service Commission’s approval of its video franchise agreement with the city.

A list of the 108 neighborhoods where FiOS TV is currently available is on Verizon’s media site (opens in new tab).