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N.J. questions Verizon's landline commitment; telco looks to mobile video service

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New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities wants to know why Verizon (NYSE: VZ) hasn't delivered 50,000 residents statewide the high-speed broadband service it promised two years ago.

The state also wants an explanation as to why the number of complaints about landline phone service has steadily gone up, despite a decline in the number of lines---Verizon has seen landline phone use plummet from 6.7 million lines in 2000 to less than 2.5 million today.

Director of the Division of Rate Counsel, Stefanie Brand, said she thinks the legacy copper system in the state is a low priority for Verizon.

"I don't think Verizon has made any secret they don't want to keep up the system,'' she said. "It's an expense for them. They are focused on wireless and their FiOS systems.''

That changing focus was sharpened a little more last week when Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the company was hoping to launch a video service that would allow its FiOS, Verizon Wireless and cable partners customers to watch some paid content on tablets and smartphones, possibly by the end of he year--if its multi-billion spectrum and marketing deal with several cable companies gets approval from the government.

"We could have something out that would be the beginnings of an integrated offering in time for the holidays," he said. The plan also could allow customers to buy some content à la carte, an option that has been off the menu in the past.

"Most content providers realize that the number of channels and the layout that you have within your home may not be appropriate for the mobile environment, and those discussions are just beginning now," McAdam said. Some content owner "have come to us and have said, 'We are willing to do an à la carte approach here.'"

But for that to happen, Verizon will need to be allowed to buy $3.9 billion in AWS spectrum from cable operators to support its LTE ambitions. Last week, several Northeastern cities came out in opposition to the proposed deal, saying it would essentially guarantee their communities would never see FiOS deployed.

For more:
- see this NYConvergence article
- see this Wall Street Journal article

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