In the Sept 21 '05 issue of the MC Gazette there is a brief article covering a County Council session in which Verizon was discussed. Specifically, the council debated whether they could issue stop-work orders on permits that they had previously approved for Verizon, due to the continuing complaints from citizens about damage caused by Verizon's fiber installers.
Oddly, the council session is not listed in their published agenda so I heard nothing about it until this article appeared. Even now, no such meeting is listed at the county website. I'm going to inquire about this oversight.
According to the Gazette, the debate arose during a discussion of Verizon's application for a cable franchise. What is interesting is that a cable franchise would normally include negotiation for access to the rights-of-way. But in this case, Verizon already has such access (except within Rockville, sigh) as it was granted for their internet and phone service. So the County has lost a bit of leverage when it comes to negotiating the franchise. Is the combination of citizen complaints and gaining leverage back that much incentive to stop Verizon from continuing its FIOS installation?
More importantly, do Verizon's negatives outweigh Verizon's positive for the county? Although I'm not about to suggest we hand over the keys to the, ... um, county, there's no doubt that the council is going to give Verizon a franchise. It's inevitable. The county needs the competition. Desperately. Even now, with Verizon starting to erode Comcast's huge head start of internet subscribers, Comcast continues to rack up the complaints. I just don't see how Verizon could do worse.
Among comments of unhappiness from various councilmembers, the Gazette quoted Councilmember Subin saying "I'm not prepared to vote in favor of a franchise agreement that got that with practices that are questionable." Oh really. Where was all this questioning when Comcast's franchise agreement was signed. Comcast's history was just as bad if not worse - and the council eagerly signed. And signed again during the renegotiation two ago, giving up another opportunity to jettison the company. Well, if Verizon has any memory (and they must as the director of the FIOS project, Donald Heath, attended Comcast's franchise hearings), they must realize that the council is merely posturing for the cameras. Comcast's in this case.