* Eyes more flexibility in data speed options
* Says a-la-carte TV not urgent in first half 2011
* Sees tablet on-demand app in Q1
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Dec 6 Verizon Communications Inc
(VZ.N) is studying a plan that would allow its FiOS customers
to choose different combinations of broadband speeds and TV
channels, a top executive said on Monday.
The moves comes as Verizon and other cable and telephone
distributors look for new ways to make their services
appealing, given rising competition in video Web offerings from
Google Inc (GOOG.O) Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and NetFlix Inc
Bob Mudge, the newly appointed top executive of FiOS, said
in an interview that Verizon would soon offer customers the
flexibility to mix and match service plans depending on how
much they watched TV versus how much they used the Web.
Today, the only Internet speed available to customers who
get the smallest package of 180 FiOS TV channels is the
relatively slow 15 megabits per second. That costs $84.99 per
month. Customers who get the 275 channel package can only get
Internet speeds of 25 megabits per second for $94.99 per
The new plan would mean that customers who sign up for
fewer channels could still get the fastest Web speeds if they
wanted. Alternatively, customers could choose to combine the
larger suite of channels with a slower Web connection.
Mudge did not discuss how pricing would work.
He also declined to say when he expects to roll out this
option. But he did say it was more urgent to Verizon than
a-la-carte TV, a concept that would let consumers choose to pay
for only the channels they want to receive.
"I do believe the issue of a-la-carte content is an issue
that will be growing," Mudge said, citing competition from
rivals such as NetFlix or Apple, which offer individual shows.
But he said: "I don't see urgency (for a-la-carte
programming) in the front half of 2011."
Mudge said Verizon is also pushing hard to bring TV to
mobile devices and computers. In the last three weeks, FiOS
customers have been able to rent a movie on demand using either
their TV set, desktop computer or certain advanced cellphones
with a service called Flex View.
"We've seen thousands on thousands of downloads using that
application," he said.
Mudge is now anxious to accelerate Verizon's plans for
mobile video and is aiming to have an application in the first
quarter for tablet computers such as Apple's iPad.
The executive eventually expects to show live TV broadcasts
on devices such as tablets, but noted this would be unlikely
before the middle of 2011 since it requires agreements with TV
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Andre Grenon)
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