The Philly Challenge: Verizon, Comcast Battle For Customers

family watching tvLast year, it was New York. Now, Philadelphia is on the launching pad. The city council in the country's fourth-largest city has given the green light for Verizon to begin trying to pry cable TV customers away from Comcast.

An ordinance was approved unanimously last week that would allow Verizon to bring its FiOS TV service to the city; it did so in New York in 2008. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter must now sign the legislation to put it into law.

Comcast COO Steve Burke has acknowledged the threat FiOS poses to the cable operator in areas where they have previously gone head-to-head. Philadelphia-based Comcast already competes with FiOS in the Philly suburbs, but has not released any details on lost or gained subscribers there.

Gale Given, president of Verizon Pennsylvania, said FiOS "will finally bring Philadelphians choice and competition for their pay-TV service." A Comcast representative said competition is nothing new for the company, noting that it has competed "for years 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."



To date, Verizon is available in only pockets of New York City--but as of mid-January, was in 1.9 million TV homes across the country, adding 303,000 in the final three months of 2008.

In markets where the service is available, about 21% of customers who could sign up for the service have done so.

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