Verizon to Slow FiOS Roll-out, Sell off Midwest and West Coast Services

verizon to slow fios roll out sell off midwest and west coast services truck 1If Verizon Communications Inc. hasn’t already started wiring your city or town with its FiOS fiber-optic TV and broadband service, chances are you won’t get it.

Where it’s available, FiOS usually provides the only competition for cable TV apart from satellite service. Studies have shown that its entry into an area leads to lower cable prices, though FiOS itself has not been undercutting cable TV prices substantially.

But Verizon is nearing the end of its program to replace copper phone lines with optical fibers that provide much higher Internet speeds and TV service. Its focus is now on completing the network in the communities where it’s already secured “franchises,” the rights to sell TV service that rivals cable, said spokeswoman Heather Wilner.

That means Verizon will continue to pull fiber to homes in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelwphia — projects that will take years to complete — but leaves such major cities as Baltimore and downtown Boston without FiOS.

Verizon is still negotiating for franchises in some smaller communities, mainly in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, but it is not working on securing franchises for any major urban areas, Wilner said. For instance, it’s halted negotiations for the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va.

Verizon never committed to bringing FiOS to its entire local-phone service area. It has introduced FiOS in 16 states, but the deployment is concentrated on the East Coast, and Verizon is selling off most of its service areas in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Its stated goal was to make FiOS available to 18 million households by the end of 2010, and it’s on track to reach or exceed that.

That will still leave nearly half of its service area without fiber. And as Verizon has signaled this month that it’s focusing on communities where it already has franchises, it’s now becoming clear which ones are in and which are out.

The New York-based company hinted in 2008 that it might continue expansion of FiOS beyond this year, but the recession seems to have crimped that possibility. The company has pulled back on promotions for new subscribers, like the 19-inch TVs it gave away under one campaign. That in turn has led to lower recruitment figures.

CEO Ivan Seidenberg told investors in January that FiOS itself has been doing well, but Verizon’s sales of services to large businesses have suffered in the downturn, and it needed to offset that by not being too “aggressive” in marketing FiOS.

Verizon doesn’t appear to have ruled out further FiOS expansion, but doesn’t have any plans, either. The economics apparently are not attractive enough: TV service carries fairly low margins compared to Verizon’s phone business, according to analyst Craig Moffett at Sanford Bernstein.

Moffett believes the end of FiOS expansion means that cable companies will lose fewer subscribers, starting next year.

The recruitment of new FiOS TV subscribers slowed last year. In the fourth quarter, it added 153,000 subscribers, little more than half of the number it added in the same period the year before.

At the end of last year, Verizon had 2.86 million FiOS TV subscribers and 3.43 million FiOS Internet subscribers (most households take both).

It costs Verizon thousands of dollars to connect a home to FiOS, and it has faced skepticism from investors over the project. The cost from its 2004 introduction to 2010 was put at $23 billion in 2007. But it’s allowed Verizon to mount an effective resistance to cable companies, which are siphoning off landline phone customers and can offer higher broadband speeds than phone companies without fiber straight to homes can.

Verizon is the only major U.S. phone company to draw fiber all the way to homes and the only one to offer broadband speeds approaching those available in Japan and South Korea. The halt to further expansion comes as the Federal Communications Commission has sent Congress the country’s first “national broadband plan,” aimed at making Internet access faster, more affordable and more widely available.

AT&T Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. are laying fiber into neighborhoods, but still use copper phone lines to take the signal the last stretch of the way, into homes. That’s a less costly strategy that has drawn less scrutiny from Wall Street, but it also limits top broadband speeds. Meanwhile, cable companies are upgrading modems this year to offer higher speeds, a relatively inexpensive move.

Gaming

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.
Mobile

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Computing

Crypto hangover could take blame for Nvidia’s potential GeForce RTX 2060 delay

Nvidia's delay in announcing a ship date for its GeForce RTX 2060 GPU could be due to a burst in the cryptocurrency mining bubble. Executives blamed the crypto hangover for an oversupply of inventory on existing GTX 1060 cards,
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Save $900 on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and more with Lenovo’s Cyber Monday sales

In the latest set of holiday sales, Lenovo is heavily discounting its fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon and other popular Windows laptops and 2-in-1s for the holiday shopping season.
Computing

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

If you don't want all of your files stored in one place but only have one drive to work with, partitioning is your best way forward. Here's how to partition a hard drive in Windows 10, step by step.
Computing

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up speech-to-text in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.
Computing

These cheap laptops will make you wonder why anyone spends more

Looking for a budget notebook for school, work, or play? The best budget laptops, including our top pick -- the Asus ZenBook UX330UA -- will get the job done without digging too deep into your pockets.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.