County Likely to Extend Agreement with Verizon for FiOS Service

Tomorrow (Saturday), the County Board is slated to extend an agreement it has with Verizon so the company can continue providing its fiber optic-based TV and internet service in Arlington.

The current franchise agreement with Verizon — called a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity — expires on Tuesday, June 22. According to the county, the pandemic derailed its efforts to negotiate a new agreement with Verizon and this one-year extension would maintain Verizon’s services through that renegotiating process.

Arlingtonians can watch the county’s public programming, which includes announcements, COVID-19 education and certain public meetings, by tuning into the stations hosted by the two local TV providers — Comcast and Verizon — or by streaming online. During the pandemic, more people have relied on televised meetings, as they could not attend in-person meetings.

The franchise agreements grant Verizon and Comcast a duopoly on wired TV and internet service to Arlington homes, in exchange for certain service standards and public benefits, like local access channels.

Before the county can consider its renewal request, it “must assess its needs for public, educational and government television facilities, institutional network, technology, and other general requirements,” according to a county staff report.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it “significantly impacted the county’s ability to commence good-faith face-to-face negotiations,” the report said.

“Accordingly, the proposed resolution extends the period available for negotiation beyond the expected duration of the pandemic,” the report said. If approved by the Board, the Certificate will be extended to June 22, 2022.

Verizon has provided cable television services within the county since June 2006.