Verizon pitched its plan to offer its FiOS TV service to the Pittsburgh City Council during a public hearing Monday night in an effort to compete against Comcast.

Pending the council’s approval, Verizon said it would offer its video service to more than 160,000 households in Pittsburgh within six years of the cable franchise being awarded.

A spokeswoman for Comcast said it serves 850,000 customers in its Pittsburgh footprint and that its 10-year deal will expire at the end of this year.

Verizon was granted a 15-year franchise agreement in Comcast’s hometown of Philadelphia earlier this year.

"We at Verizon are eager to bring cable TV competition to the city," said Bill Carnahan, Verizon’s vice president for external affairs in western Pennsylvania, in testimony delivered before the council's Committee on General and Government Services. "We know customers want a new alternative for cable TV, and we agree with them that the time is now."

Verizon said the 10-year franchise agreement in Pittsburgh would include payment of franchise fees equivalent to 5 percent of gross revenues on cable TV service. Under its current deal, Comcast also pays the same 5 percent.

Other provisions of the agreement include:

  • Payment of a $350,000 government access grant to the Cable Bureau of the city's Department of Information Systems
  • Payment of a $350,000 grant to support the city's public, education and government access channels
  • Up to five public, educational and governmental access channels for use by the city over the life of the agreement
  • An “extensive and appropriate” set of customer service provisions

After roughly 15 months of negotiations, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl previously announced a tentative deal to allow Verizon to install its fiber-optic network in order to offer its high-speed Internet, phone and cable access within six years.

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