By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff
Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday it will extend a powerful
new fiber-optic network capable of delivering cable television to 1
million US homes and businesses by year's end, including more than
100,000 in suburban Boston.
The new network, versions of which Verizon already has deployed in
test markets in California, Florida, and Texas, is expected to ratchet
up the competition between cable and phone companies, as Verizon uses
the massively upgraded network to sell ultrafast Internet access and
packages of interactive television programming.
Verizon said it will launch services starting this winter in Essex and
Middlesex counties north and west of Boston. It declined to identify
the cities and towns it will target first, although Lexington,
Newburyport, Newton, Reading, and Topsfield are considered by
telecommunications executives familiar with Verizon's plan to be
likely prospects. Verizon is building similar networks in eight other
states this year.
Besides enabling the nation's biggest phone company to offer cable
television, including potentially high-definition programming
delivered on demand, the network would allow Verizon to vault past
Comcast Corp. and RCN Corp. with Internet access at speeds that are
six to 10 times faster than today's cable and Verizon broadband
offerings. While a new entrant into the cable TV market may cause more
consumer excitement, broadband data could be an equally lucrative
business for Verizon.