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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Verizon to launch new DVR for cable TV

Verizon on Tuesday launches its latest salvo in the cable and satellite TV wars for the biggest, most powerful DVR.

The cable giant this week will start offering a “FiOS Quantum TV” service that lets people run up to 10 TVs at once, and record 12 shows at once, while storing upwards of two solid weeks of recording space, if customers are willing to pay a premium.

The move follows similar upgrades at providers like Dish Network, which highly publicized its “Hopper” multi-TV box system, as well as DirecTV that has a similar offering.

Verizon already launched the Quantum TV service in a few markets in Texas and Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, Verizon executives will announce the service for Florida markets — essentially the wider Tampa Bay region where Verizon offers telephone service on fiber optic networks: Parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

As with most services in cable TV, there are multiple levels of service, each with their own price points.

The Quantum service comes in two tiers. “Enhanced” is meant for households with five or fewer televisions, and it comes with a DVR that can record six shows at once, with up to 100 hours of high-definition program space for an extra $10 per month. “Premium” service can handle up to 10 televisions simultaneously, and can record 12 shows at once, with 200 hours of space available on the DVR.

Each TV connected to the system then comes with an extra fee, and a small connector box that links with the overall system. According to a Verizon price schedule, a home with four televisions in the “Enhanced” service would pay $56.99 per month for the new equipment, on top of whatever cable TV channel package they chose.

“Expanded storage space means FiOS Quantum TV customers can store full seasons of shows they want to watch and binge on,” said Bob Mudge, president of the consumer and mass business unit of Verizon.

The new service comes as Verizon has dramatically slowed the rollout of FiOS in the Tampa region, and nationwide, as the company is now focusing on adding more customers and more services onto the network it already has. Verizon’s direct rival here, Bright House Networks, already has a “whole house” DVR service that can run up to eight televisions and store 200 hours of content. The price for that box depends on the level of service the customer chooses.

Verizon’s move also comes as more entertainment moves beyond the DVR and to online services through providers like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google and Apple TV, none of which have an upper limit of storage capacity because all their media is stored online and streamed as needed to the viewer. Such services are rapidly reshaping the TV landscape.

The research firm Parks Associates recently found Amazon making “significant gains” in the TV streaming market, as “nearly 20 percent of all U.S. broadband households now have an Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription.” That marked an average growth rate of 55 percent.

Such services are competing directly with the cable providers for viewers, although those cable providers are often the companies providing the broadband connection into the home that’s needed by Netflix, Hulu and others. Verizon in particular just made a new arrangement with Netflix to allow Netflix streaming shows more broadband space on the Verizon network.

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