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Verizon's FiOS comes to the city ... of Chester, not Philadelphia

Chester City Council signed off on a 15-year franchise agreement on Tuesday, while Philadelphia's will wait until January to consider one.

Chester City Council yesterday approved a franchise agreement with Verizon Communications to bring its FiOS TV and Internet service to the small city on the Delaware.

Under a 15-year agreement, Verizon plans to begin offering FiOS to more than 3,600 households in parts of Chester later this month, and citywide within six years.

Philadelphia could have issued a similar announcement by now.

Instead, City Council slowed down the approval of a franchise agreement that was the product of several months of negotiations between the Nutter administration and Verizon. The deal has gone from fast-tracked to no action until January.

Verizon Pennsylvania president Gale Y. Given has said the company can live with a decision coming in January. But what if January becomes February or June?

Comparing Chester's governmental efficiency with Philadelphia's makes little sense. Chester is much smaller than Philadelphia - six square miles vs. 135. There's less turf to argue over.

But the District of Columbia is an urban area with an estimated 580,000 residents in less than half of the real estate of Philadelphia. Its leaders this week also found a way to approve a 15-year franchise deal that calls for FiOS to be rolled out over a nine-year period.

In the past, Verizon has been criticized for not offering FiOS in lower-income towns in the Philadelphia suburbs. They don't come much lower income than Chester. So Verizon is acting to counter critics' complaints that it's been "cherry picking" areas.

When companies express a willingness to commit their capital to Philadelphia, we need to recognize that the city often is in competition with other metro areas.

Dally too long, and that $700 million that Verizon wants to spend building its fiber-optic network in this "greene countrie town" could go elsewhere.