According to a story by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Verizon ratcheted up its bid to provide its FiOS services in Philadelphia by telling a city council committee yesterday that it would invest $1 billion to build its fiber-optic network.

A spokesman for Verizon said the company did not provide the $1 billion cost estimate to the committee.

Verizon is seeking to compete with Comcast by offering its video and Internet services in the city where Comcast is headquartered.

After negotiating with the city’s administration, Verizon has proposed a 15-year franchise agreement, which is now under review by Philadelphia’s city council, and said it plans to offer cable service to all of the city’s 600,000 households within seven years of the effective date of the cable franchise agreement.

Verizon has said it would offer service to approximately one-third of Philadelphia residences within three years of the agreement's effective date.

Comcast has expressed concern that Verizon will target the more affluent areas of the city (story here).

“We are watching the Verizon franchise process in Philadelphia closely to ensure competition takes place on a level playing field, with all participants being held to the same standards and commitments,” Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said in an e-mail on Monday. “We ask for fair and equal treatment for all providers who wish to serve the city of Philadelphia and believe that Verizon should be held, for example, to the same requirements as Comcast as it relates to serving all neighborhoods in a timely fashion."

According to the story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, city council members have questioned which neighborhoods would get the FiOS services first, while some said they felt rushed to make a decision.

Verizon has previously said it would like a franchise agreement approved by the city council before the end of the year.

According to the Inquirer, a Verizon official declined to provide zip code-level build-out of the FiOS network because Comcast would then target those neighborhoods with special promotions and multi-year contracts.

A Verizon consultant told the city council that the company would privately provide a build-out schedule to city officials in order to ensure that it wasn’t just targeting rich neighborhoods.

The hearing last night was before the city’s Public Property Committee, which did not take any action. A public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

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