I’m lucky enough to live in an area where broadband competition is rapidly intensifying–Fairfax County in Northern Virginia (McLean, VA to be exact). In recent years, the incumbent cable operator Cox Communications has beefed-up its network to offer phone service and high-speed broadband in addition to its growing video programming lineup (which how includes plenty of HDTV and VOD offerings). I’ve been a Cox cable subscriber for many years now and have been very happy with them. In fact, after 7 years with DirecTV prior to that, I’ve never thought about going back to satellite after switching to cable. (Of course, the superior high-speed broadband option that Cox offers had something to do with that.)
Meanwhile, regional telephone giant Verizon Communications has been aggressively deploying new fiber optic lines throughout many Northern Virginia neighborhoods and other Washington, D.C. metro communities in the hope of competing against Cox and Comcast in the race to deliver the complete “triple play” package (voice, video, data) to consumers. Last year, Verizon sent a team of contractors out to my neighborhood to dig up my front yard, lay new fiber lines and install a new box. And then, for reasons I still can’t quite understand, another team came back and dug up my yard again to install more lines and a different box! My wife wasn’t real happy about the mess this created (and all the grass that died as a result), but I just kept telling her that one day it would all be worth it.
And that day has arrived.
Earlier this year, Verizon began dispatching door-to-door salespeople to my neighborhood in an attempt to sign up new subscribers for their new “FIOS” (fiber optic-based) service. I felt sorry for the salespeople who knocked on my door because they had no idea I was going to shower them with a litany of technical questions based on my knowledge of communications markets. But they were always very informative and helpful. And they REALLY wanted my business. Unfortunately, however, they had no control over the pesky city and county regulators who were holding up deployment of FIOS service in the area. In particular, Verzion had to fight for the right to offer consumers video programming services in competition with cable.
Luckily for me, they finally got permission in Fairfax County. (Of course, Verizon and other telcos are still fighting for permission to offer video services in countless other communities across America. And federal legislation is pending that would expedite that process through the use of national franchises). After I received confirmation that Verizon would at least be able to offer me everything I already had in my Cox “triple play” bundle, I finally decided to pull the trigger and sign up for a one-month trial of Verizon’s FIOS service in my home.