Yesterday Philadelphia’s city council unanimously approved an ordinance to allow Verizon to deploy its FiOS video service the city’s residents.

With that hurdle cleared, Verizon now just needs the signoff of Mayor Michael Nutter to make the ordinance granting the franchise agreement a law. Nutter has been a proponent of Verizon offering a competing video service in the same city where Comcast has its headquarters.

While Verizon hasn’t confirmed the figure, the cost of the Philadelphia build out has been reported in various media outlets as $800 million to $1 billion. Verizon has said it will have the service deployed in some areas before the end of the year.

As part of the 15-year cable franchise included in the legislation, Verizon will make FiOS TV available throughout the city over the next seven years.

Verizon has been working on the franchise agreement since June. According to published reports, both sides were close to an accord in November, but some council members expressed concern over which neighborhoods would receive the service first.

In the past, Comcast has expressed concern that Verizon would “cherry pick” the more affluent neighborhoods for its FiOS services, while ignoring lower-income areas.

“Competition is nothing new for Comcast,” Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander wrote in an e-mail to CED. “As we have for years, we compete effectively every day across every area of our business. We look forward to competing directly with Verizon in the city of Philadelphia as we already do across many of its suburbs.

“We applaud Philadelphia city council’s diligence during the review process.”

In response to city council members’ concern over how the service would be deployed, Verizon came up with a plan that would rollout FiOS in neighborhoods across all of the city council districts.

In other Verizon news, the company announced that executive vide president and chief financial officer Doreen Toben plans to retire around mid-year. Verizon said Toben’s replacement will be named shortly.

Toben was first appointed as CFO in 2002. Prior to being CFO, Toben was senior vice president and chief financial officer for Verizon's Domestic Telecom group, with responsibility for finance and strategic planning.

Toben was vice president and controller for Bell Atlantic in 2000, when the company merged with GTE to form Verizon.  Prior to that, she was the chief financial officer of Bell Atlantic's telecom operations, and had been vice president of finance and controller when Bell Atlantic merged with NYNEX in August 1997. Toben began her career in 1983 at AT&T.

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