Kenney wants hearing on franchise agreement with Verizon Communications

In 2009 City Council approved a 15-year franchise agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. to bring the FiOS –fiber optic network to the city.

And now Councilman Jim Kenney wants to hold hearings to review the status of that agreement to examine the company’s progress in making cable television service available throughout the city.

“We’ve been getting information from various sources that they may not be on schedule with their promise to build-out in every community in the city and they may be choosing to build out in more lucrative areas than in some of the poor areas,” Kenney said after Thursday’s session. He and Councilman Bobby Henon sponsored the resolution.

“We have a digital divide obviously [and] according to the Knight Foundation reports and we want to make sure that when we granted this franchise there were certain promises made and we want to make sure we’re up to speed with them,” Kenney said.

But Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski said the company is on schedule and it has built-out in different neighborhoods including in West Philadelphia, Kensington, Brewerytown and other parts of North Philadelphia.

“We’ve met or exceeded the benchmark outlined in the franchise agreement,” Gierczynski said.

The agreement requires that Verizon make cable television service available to households throughout the franchise area within seven years.

Gierczynski said there are 600,000 households and the company is at a 32 percent completion rate, adding that Verizon will “gladly provide City Council with whatever we can about deployment of the network.”