Verizon launches 100 HD channels on FiOS in New York City

"Make no mistake about it. This isn't cable," said Virginia Ruesterholz, president of Verizon Telecom, in announcing today the immediate start of FiOS services with 100 high-definition channels in parts of New York City, plus the availability of 150 HD channels by the end of this year in sections of New York City and some other areas of the US.

Because nearly 60 percent of New York City residences and businesses are located in multiple dwelling units (MDUs), Verizon is putting an early focus on apartment buildings. More than 100 MDUs will go live with 100 HD-channel TV today, according to Maura Breen, Verizon's general manager for New York.

"We're in discussions with hundreds of other MDUs," said Breen, during a news conference that was preceded by a publicity march for FiOS TV through Grand Central Station by Verizon workers.

Verizon will also offer 100 HDTV channels throughout 108 neighbborhoods of New York City, as well as among existing FiOS TV customers in some suburbs surrounding the city, including areas north of the city, on Long Island, and in northern New Jersey.

Also today, Verizon announced service packages for FIOS TV that start at $94.99 per month with 54 free HD channels. Other bundles are available with the faster Internet service of 20/20 Mbps.

Breen promised an "aggressive" ad campaign in New York City beginning today, to lure TV customers away from the city's two cable companies: Time Warner and Cablevision. "Neither one can compete," she contended.

As previously reported in BetaNews, however, Verizon won't exactly be blanketing all of New York City with FiOS TV immediately. Plans call for a very gradual rollout, due to the need to replace older wiring with fiber optic cables. Even if all work proceeds according to schedule, some areas of the city won't be FiOS-enabled until 2014.

During a Q&A, Ruesterholz said that Verizon plans to begin offering 150 HD channels by the end of this year will extend to some other parts of the US, as well. "Yes, there's work to do. [But] we do expect [to bring FiOS TV to other cities] by the end of this year."

Right out of the gate, though, Verizon's HDTV programming is slated to include a wide range of existing channels. A partial list includes, for example, news channels such as Fox; a variety of sports programming; 11 new movie channels from Cinemax; 13 new movie channels from HBO; "Fios TV's Movie Package," which bundles HD channels from The Movie Channel, Starz and Showtime; Disney Channel; Animal Planet, TLC; USA; Bravo; TBS; History Channel; Weather Channel, QVC; Science Channel; SCI FI; and the Smithsonian Channel.

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