The town of Haverhill MA feels held hostage by cable incumbent Comcast, which is raising its rates, and to which there is no real alternative for people seeking subscription television service. It has repeatedly invited Verizon to come into town with its FiOS service to bring some good old-fashioned competition into the mix, but Verizon isn’t ready to come in there and lay down the necessary infrastructure just yet.
Haverhill is a community in the Northeast corner of the state not far from the New Hampshire state line. According to an article in the Eagle-Tribune, Comcast has about 1.6M subscribers in Massachusetts, and about 20K of them reside in Haverhill.
Verizon has told the town’s leaders that it has no plans to go there just yet and that it will let them know when it’s ready. For its part, Haverhill will try to find out just how much business Verizon will be able to take from Comcast if it does come to town.
Meanwhile, the town has been trying to get Comcast to roll back the increased fees, also unsuccessfully, and has even tried getting assistance in the matter from State AG Martha Coakley, to no avail.
One member of the town government has gone so far as to suggest possible collusion between Comcast and Verizon, suggesting that they may be dividing up the MVPD marketplace to avoid having to compete with one another.
For its part, Comcast says its latest increase is only 1.4% and doesn’t even affect all subscribers. That doesn’t matter to the town government, however.
RBR-TVBR observation: Competition is a good thing if you’re a consumer, and Haverhill will serve its cause well by helping ease Verizon into town. But Verizon can’t go everywhere at once. Still, you have to believe that the town’s enthusiasm for the service would have to move it higher on Verizon’s list than a similar-sized community that is mum on the topic, or that would make extra demands on Verizon.
There is of course no way there is any collusion between the two companies. Cable is a mature incumbent that has penetrated just about everywhere there is to penetrate. Verizon is the new kid on the block just about everywhere it goes. Charges of territory setting between the two lack merit.