Broadcast, cable, satellite — now phone TV

With cable companies offering phone service, you knew it was just a matter of time until the phone companies broke into the TV game. Earlier this month, AT&T quietly started offering about 200 channels to a few lucky folks who live near the company's San Antonio, Texas, HQ. And this week, Verizon was cleared to expand its FiOS TV service (launched in September last year in a few select areas) to Reading, Massachusetts, and Massapequa Park, New York. FiOS is a completely fiber-optic network that takes the high-capacity cables right to your door, so its potential bandwidth is superior to AT&T's, which delivers service through fiber to "nodes" in neighborhoods, then compresses signals for the copper wiring that goes into homes. Since it's swimming in bandwidth, FiOS TV can offer more than 20 HDTV channels in its 180-channel Expanded Basic package ($34.95 a month, plus up to $12.95 per month for the box). Just like cable, you add more channel packages (like a 5-channel sports package) à la carte, and there's on-demand programming for the taking, too. The cable and satellite guys better suit up — looks like 2006 will be the year the phone companies come to prime time.

Verizon FiOS Hits NY, MA, via Mark Fleischmann Blog