Is Verizon Abandoning FiOS HD Television?

Two years ago, Verizon agressivley opened a campaign to get communities in New York to adopt their new FiOS fiber optic service for telephony, Internet and digital television.  In my Village of Croton on Hudson, NY, which is located between Peekskill and Ossining in Westchester County, we  responded in a timely manner and even retained special counsel experienced in these agreements to be sure the village's interests were well protected and represented.

Our villagetook steps to move to FiOS because VZ had already negotiated franchise agreements with larger municipalities to the south and east of Croton.  Verizon was busy stringing the fiber optic cable throughout the NY area that would carry the FiOS TV, as well as telephone and Interent, so we figured the service offering was real.  VZ even began an agressive direct mail and newspaper stuffer campaign advertising phone, internet and TV as a combined FIOS package to Croton residents, including my family.

Our community bought the VZ campaign hook, line and sinker.  Like my family, many Croton residents dropped cable and satelite satelitte TV dish subscriptions based on what now seem to be false representations by VZ that the television service was about to be launched.  This was a year ago.  Today we have  FiOS phone and internet,which is great BTW, but no TV.  For me this meant going back to Cablevision and wasting time, again, changing providers.   As of today, VZ representatives cannot give me a date for turning on the TV service and they refuse to respond to queries by attorneys for our village seeking to finalize the service contract.

On more than one ocassion over the past 18 months, the Village of Croton has submitted revisions or comments on the TV franchise agreement to VZ, only to have those documents, which VZ appeared eager to have, go without a response.  The Village of Croton regularly renegotiates franchise agreements with Cablevision, which both set a precendent in process and substance for the VZ FiOS TV matter, as well as show that we do conclude such agreements in timely fashion for other corporate applicants.

Both through our attorney and directly through the village's own contacts within the VZ empire, we have tired to elicit a response fromVZ management, but without success.  Each time we follow up, we get vague answers that do not appear to eliminate the possibility of FiOS TV coming to Croton, but offer no forward motion either.  As of today, we still have no definitive answer, one way or the other.  Indeed, my impression is that VZ has no intention of moving forward with the TV service in our community.  More, in my discussions with VZ field personnel over the past month, there seems to be no indication that VZ is going to actually bring the TV service to Croton on Hudson.  Whereas a year ago, the VZ personnel we touting the benefits of FiOS digital TV, today they say nothing.

In the most recent filings with the SEC, VZ reports that "while "FiOS and IP services offerings continue to positively impact operating results, economic conditions continue to affect parts of our wireline business."  Translated into plain English, VZ is still straining to fund the CAPEX needed to replace the copper-era technology that makes up most of its network even as average spend per household on communications falls under the pressure of a deflating economy.  Will FD FiOS TV be a casualty of the deflating economy?