County Board Approved Comcast franchise renewal at December 10th Meeting
Verizon FiOS Service Availability
Verizon has completed all three phases of installation (described below) to all areas of Arlington County.
Apartment buildings, townhomes, or condo units, (a.k.a. Multi-Dwelling Units – MDUs), are an exception to the buildout requirement in that building management or Home Owner Associations (HOAs) for the buildings must separately negotiate terms of entry and installation with Verizon for access to FiOS.
Verizon recommends that you check for FiOS availability at your street address through the Verizon Website. Verizon states that this is the most accurate way to track availability, and you can register to have Verizon notify you when FiOS becomes available.
Much of the regulation of cable companies is done at the federal government and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) levels. FCC guidelines give Arlington County the authority to regulate the rate for Basic service, the lowest available level of service, when there is no competition. Currently the rates for cable service are not regulated, as the FCC has determined that the two companies of Verizon and Comcast provide a competitive environment. For this reason, the cable companies may charge what they feel the cable-buying market will pay. The FCC Cable TV Fact Sheet has additional information regarding the role of local government in the regulation of cable rates.
FCC regulations state that Basic service must contain local broadcast stations and public-education-government channels. Any additional channels are at the sole discretion of the cable company. Except for mandating broad categories of programming, i.e. family, multi-cultural, home shopping, public, educational and government, etc., Arlington County has no jurisdiction over what channels are carried on the Comcast system. Subscribers who wish to suggest other channels should send written notification to Comcast or Verizon addressed to the General Manager.
Advanced Billing for Service
With utilities like electricity and water, monthly charges are based on usage and fees and are calculated at the end of a billing cycle. However, like telephone service, cable TV service has a standard basic monthly charge, usually billed a month in advance.
Virginia Communications Sales Tax
Under legislation enacted by the 2006 General Assembly, House Bill 568, the Virginia communications sales and use tax, also referred to as the Communications Sales tax, replaced most of the previous state and local taxes and fees on communications services, effective January 1, 2007. This tax replaced all “franchise fees” previously paid by cable TV service companies in Virginia to the local jurisdictions (local franchising authorities).
The County no longer receives Franchise Fees directly from the companies.
TV Service Complaints
If subscribers have questions or problems with cable service, they should first contact the cable company to resolve the issue.
Direct inquiries for Comcast to:
Attn: Customer Service
8110 Corporate Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21236
For Verizon problems or questions:
Verizon Customer Relations
PO Box 33078
Customers are advised not to mail any correspondence with their payment, since payments are processed at a separate address.
What if the cable company has not resolved my issue?
If your issue was not resolved or you were not satisfied with how your cable provider resolved your issue or concern, you may file a complaint form with the Arlington County Cable Administration.
The County Board has also commissioned an advisory group to advise them about cable services in Arlington. The Information Technology Advisory Commission (ITAC) is a group of Arlington citizens appointed by the County Board to provide advice on various technology issues, including the cable TV system. ITAC meetings are public meetings, and are usually held the 4th Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Court House Plaza, 1st Floor Azalea Conference Room, across the hall from the Courthouse Branch Library , 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201.
For more information about cable policy and issues in Arlington County, visit the ITAC webpage.
About the Cable Administration Office
The Cable Administration Office, within the Department of Technology Services, provides oversight and administration of the cable television franchise certificates with Verizon and Comcast. The Cable Administrator administers the relationship between the Cable TV providers and Arlington County in accordance with their franchise agreements.
Responsibilities include ensuring that the cable providers meet the requirements and financial obligations stated in the franchise agreements and monitoring and regulation of the cable TV provider customer service standards. The Cable Administration Office is also responsible for responding to inquiries and complaints about cable service.
Arlington County policy provides for the adequate, economical, and efficient delivery of cable service to subscribers, and seeks to protect subscribers from poor services and unfair competition, so a cable TV service should be:
- Available to as many county residents as possible.
- Capable of accommodating present and reasonably foreseeable future cable-related needs of the county and its residents.
- Constructed and maintained so technological changes may be integrated to the maximum extent possible into existing system facilities
- Responsive to the needs and interests of the local community, with the widest possible diversity of information sources and service to the public.