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Verizon Gets Video Nod in California

Verizon has quickly capitalized on a recent change in California's video franchising laws, as the telco has received the first state-issued video franchise from California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Verizon, which was the first new entrant to file for a state-wide video franchise after the PUC launched its new application process on March 1, is now free to provide its FiOS TV fiber-based video service to some 45 communities in Southern California, including portions of Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Monica. In doing so, it will be entering neighborhoods that were previously served by erstwhile cable operator Adelphia and are now owned and operated by Time Warner Cable.

Verizon already offers FiOS TV in 18 California communities where it has secured locally-approved franchises for the service.

With Thursday's ruling, Verizon is taking advantage of California's Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (AB 2987), passed in late 2006, which mandates that the PUC must determine whether a video franchise application is complete within 30 days of its submission and issue a video franchise within 14 days after finding the application complete.  Prior to the new law, new video entrants like Verizon had to follow the traditional--and painstaking--procedure of securing franchise agreements with each individual locality where it sought to offer service.

California is one of several states to adopt such state-wide franchise laws, which have drawn criticism from cable operators who previously had to secure local franchises on a town-by-town basis. Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new video franchising rules, first proposed in December, that also seek to streamline the franchising process for new video entrants. The rules put a time limit on local franchise negotiations, limit build-out requirements and franchise conditions, and cap public and government-access-channel investments.

“The commission’s rapid approval of our application opens up an exciting new dimension in home entertainment for many of our Southern California customers,” said Tim McCallion, Verizon’s West region president, in a statement. “This is a huge victory for consumers.”

Verizon says it will announce the first communities to get FiOS TV under the PUC order later this month. The company says it has already completed construction of its fiber-based network in many parts of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

Verizon’s state-issued franchise covers all or portions of the following communities:

Cathedral City
Desert Hot Springs
Diamond Bar
Fountain Valley
Garden Grove
Hawaiian Gardens
Huntington Beach
Indian Wells
La Quinta
La Verne
Long Beach
Moreno Valley
Palm Desert
Palm Springs
Palos Verdes Estates
Rancho Cucamonga
Rancho Mirage
Rancho Palos Verdes
Rolling Hills
Rolling Hills Estates
San Dimas
San Jacinto
Santa Fe Springs
Santa Monica
Seal Beach
Signal Hill