Apr 21, 2010 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
After 16 months of negotiations, all three municipalities have approved the Verizon FiOS agreement in Greater Baldwinsville.
A public hearing regarding the franchise agreement was held April 12 during the Lysander board meeting. Both the village board and the town of Van Buren board were also present to answer questions from the public, as well as Verizon representatives. Topics of discussion included coverage areas, competitive costs and contributions to Baldwinsville public access channel, PAC-B TV.
Despite an announcement that Verizon would be curbing its expansion of FiOS services in Central New York, it will not affect the greater Baldwinsville area. Verizon Franchise Service Manager Lincoln Janus said the build out is 50 to 75 percent complete and will be 100 percent complete within the next five years.
“Verizon is committed to the full build out, despite national reports,” he said.
While the franchise agreement has nothing to do with pricing for the services, residents also inquired about costs for the TV service, which will directly compete with Time Warner Cable.
“With competition, does that mean the price will go down,” asked Norma Goodman of Baldwinsville.
“It’s going to be competitive. We’re fighting for customers,” Janus replied.
During the public hearing, elected officials noted the process of establishing a franchise agreement was time consuming, and that the fault lied not with municipal leaders but with Verizon as they kept sending new representatives to negotiate during the 16-month process.
“We have gone through a series of [Verizon] attorneys,” said Lysander Councilor Art Levy, who along with Van Buren Councilor Mary Frances Sabin and Baldwinsville Trustee Richard Clarke made up the intermunicipal committee negotiating the franchise agreement. Levy said while the Verizon representatives present at the hearing were not at fault, the committee had to continually go back to the drawing board because of new Verizon representatives.
Another component holding up the agreement regarded funding for Baldwinsville’s Public Access Channel, PAC-B TV, a local station run by volunteers that provides community programming including school concerts, community events and government board meetings. Through Time Warner, the station receives funding (through a portion of the franchise fees, a fee utility companies pay municipalities for the use of public property), in-kind services and used equipment. Verizon’s obligation to PAC-B TV will be financially identical to Time Warner’s commitment.
“Thank you for negotiating on our behalf,” said Andy Dryden, chairman of the PAC-B TV board.
After the public hearing closed, the town of Lysander voted in favor of the franchise agreement. Baldwinsville’s board approved the agreement last Thursday during its regular board meeting and the town of Van Buren board approved the agreement last night.
Should everything go as planned, the Public Service Commission will review the franchise agreement during its May meeting. Verizon FiOS could feasibly be in households by late May.