First, the good news: David Li has won the Frappr contest and will be receiving the free Comcast movie. David, just email me your address and I'll send you the coupon.
I plan to give away more of the crap that Comcast keeps sending me to people who list themselves on the Frappr. So sign up if you haven't already. Everyone on the map is eligible. For those of you that cannot make use of such prizes, peace of mind should be enough. ... Ok, I'll come up with something else.
Since I last wrote about the subject of Verizon TV, here's what's happened ... oh, wait, do you want the short version or the long version?
Long version: There's been no progress. And it's even worse than that.
Details (If You Really Want To Call Them That)
According to discussion at Wednesday evening's CCAC meeting, there has been a breakdown in communications between the county and Verizon. Negotiations have come to a complete standstill. Let me repeat: Complete. Total. No one is calling anyone else. A Cable Office official had doubts whether Verizon will even show up at the next MFP meeting.
The Cable Office, the Council, the CCAC, the Public - all appear to be out of the loop. We were left with a lot of speculation. So who is in the loop? County Executive Duncan - and he's busy running his campaign to be the next governor of Maryland. (Get this - his campaign motto: Think Bigger. Hmm, bigger overdevelopment, bigger traffic jams, bigger taxes? He really wants us to think about this?)
Executive Duncan has not issued any statements regarding the franchise. He has not held hearings for public input as he did for the Comcast franchise. (He didn't even attend his own meeting with the CCAC and CCC. It's only once a year - is that such a burden?)
What's Wrong With This Picture????
Why isn't there action from Verizon? Probably because there are easier pickings elsewhere. They recently signed a franchise with neighboring Howard County. That at least shows that it's not a problem with the state of Maryland. (The state is significant because they traditionally controlled access to rights-of-way for most of Verizon's lines - and Verizon continued to take advantage of that by laying their FIOS-fiber as "upgrades" so that local communities couldn't interfere.)
And Verizon appears to be on the verge of nailing down a franchise with Carroll County. (For the geographically impaired, Howard is northeast of MC and Carroll County is north of Howard. (MD county map)
This Makes No Sense
So Verizon has laid fiber through half of MC but signs a franchise in a county where they only have 10% laid? And Verizon is actively negotiating in counties where they haven't even begun to dig! Is this a bad dream? Or a calculated move on Verizon's part? Or just a teeny tiny mistake? (Kinda like that teeny tiny "slam dunk" thing.)
Hey, anything's possible. Maybe Verizon is asking for concessions (We're the new guy in town - we need help from the big bad Comcast who has everything locked up.) Seems fair. After all, Starpower got concessions. For instance, StarPower doesn't have to meet certain customer service requirements as long as the number of customers falls below a certain number. Or maybe it's the reverse and the County Executive, having learned his lesson from being walked all over by Comcast, is trying to extract more from Verizon with an even tougher franchise.
I really don't understand the problem. These franchises should be cut and dry things by now. Everyone's signing franchises but MC. (Across the Potomac, Verizon is also getting franchises. For instance, Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax have both signed franchises.) Are we really asking for something so different?
Or is Verizon simply pissed off at all the complaints they've received from the digging in MC. (Admittedly, severing the electricity to the entire neighborhood of one of the councilmembers was not a politically savvy move.) But hey, I think competition is too important. I'm not complaining about a few "minor" annoyances. (They left a cable across two of my neighbors' lawns for 3 months and I didn't call once!) And maybe Verizon is trying to keep Duncan out of Annapolis and has decided this embarrassment is a good way to do it. I don't really know. The Executive doesn't talk to me.
In fact, that's literally true. The Executive has Customer Service Standards which say that the county must respond to e-mail within 2 days. However, I've never received responses to my e-mails to him. Yesterday, I sent him another - requesting an explanation of the holdup over the franchise. His standards also say: In general, all written communication must contain complete, accurate and precise information. Wow. His response oughta clear things right up. Assuming I get one. Anyone willing to lay odds?