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Verizon to string fiber-optic in 2 towns Offers faster Internet, future TV service

Verizon Communications plans to start stringing fiber-optic cable to homes and businesses in Hamburg and Orchard Park in a move to offer faster Internet connections that also could allow the company to eventually offer television service.

Hamburg and Orchard Park will be the first Western New York communities to be part of Verizon's broader plan to build a sprawling fiber-optic network that will reach 18 million homes by the end of 2010.

While the addition of Hamburg and Orchard Park to Verizon's list of more than 120 New York communities in the company's "fiber to the premises" plan initially will expand its high-speed Internet offerings, it also brings some intriguing potential on the video side.

Verizon officials said Wednesday that the rollout of cable television service along those lines in Hamburg and Orchard Park remains a ways off. The company first would have to secure a franchise agreement from those communities before television service could be offered, and Verizon spokesman Cliff Lee said the firm has no timetable for doing that.

The company currently offers television service in New York state only in the village of Massapequa Park on Long Island, although it also has been awarded cable franchises in Nyack and South Nyack in Rockland County. Verizon's initial cable offerings in New York include a 180-channel package that costs $40 a month.

The installation of fiber-optic cable into Verizon customers' homes and businesses will allow the telecommunications company to offer Internet service at much faster speeds than its own DSL product, which uses the same copper wires that carry telephone calls.

Verizon already has begun stringing the fiber-optic cable in Hamburg and Orchard Park, although the company does not expect to start selling its fiber-optic service, or FiOS service, until late spring or early summer, Lee said.

"We generally like to have the majority of homes in a community passed before we start selling the service," he said.

The company also expects to install its FiOS service in other Buffalo Niagara region communities, although Lee declined to identify them.

Verizon's FiOS service offers several tiers of high-speed Internet access, beginning with a $34.95 monthly rate that offers downloads at 5 megabits per second and upload speeds of 2 megabits per second as part of a calling package. That download speed is 67 percent faster than Verizon's fastest residential DSL offering, which sells for $29.95 a month with a one-year commitment.

Until now, most of Verizon's focus with its fiber-optic initiative in New York has been on the eastern and central parts of the state, including the Syracuse and Albany areas, along with Westchester and Rockland counties.

Verizon intends to run fiber-optic cables to 6 million households, roughly 20 percent of its customer base, by the end of this year, and up to 18 million homes by the end of 2010.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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