Verizon launches its FiOS in Phila. It began a seven-year buildout of its fiber-optics service in the city with three neighborhoods.

Posted: November 19, 2009

Verizon Communications Inc. has launched FiOS TV and Internet in three neighborhoods in the city - Chestnut Hill, South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia, near Girard College.

Elizabeth "Jane" Kilduff, in Chestnut Hill, is one of the company's first new customers. She signed up for Verizon's "triple play" at a promotional price of $79 a month for six months and $109 for the next 18 months. She estimates she will save $4,000 in the two years when compared with her previous service with Comcast for cable TV and Verizon for phone and Internet service.

"I would be a fool not to try this," she said.

Verizon won a 15-year video license from City Council earlier this year and has vowed to build its high-speed FiOS network throughout the city in the next seven years.

It will not be available in all parts of those three neighborhoods right away, but it will advance as new subscribers enroll. Verizon spokesman Richard Young said the company would expand into additional neighborhoods with FiOS Internet and TV before the end of 2009. He did not specify which ones.

The company has set a news conference for next week to announce the new FiOS service.

Verizon has a list of "thousands of people" who told the company they would order FiOS when it arrived in their neighborhood, Young said. The company also is sending homes direct-mail advertisements.

When there is not a promotion, Verizon's TV prices are roughly the same as Comcast's, officials from both companies have said. Verizon has heavily marketed its high-speed fiber-optic data lines and customer service as competitive advantages to Comcast, which recently improved dismal customer-service ratings.

Verizon also boasts in marketing about its high-definition channels and technical wizardry, which includes embedding Twitter or Facebook on TV screens through its Widget function on the TV remote controls.

The company seeks to take customers from Comcast, the dominant cable provider in the Philadelphia area, and satellite-TV providers DirecTV and Dish Network. Comcast has been offering customers special deals to keep them as customers.

Verizon, which includes the former Bell Atlantic operations, has invested billions of dollars in its high-speed FiOS equipment as its traditional wireline phone service has shrunk, with people dropping those phone lines for wireless phones.

The company launched the FiOS service in 2005 and nationally has 3.3 million FiOS Internet customers and 2.7 million FiOS TV customers.

Comcast is battling for cable TV customers with Verizon and AT&T Inc., which also has a relatively new cable TV business.

Verizon has said it will invest about $750 million in FiOS equipment in Philadelphia, with about 100 Verizon technicians installing the service in homes. The FiOS service is available in dozens of Philadelphia's suburbs, but Verizon has recently said it will slow its advance in central Pennsylvania.

Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.

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