Cable Regulation, Ordinances and Consumer Help
Cable Construction Safety
Fairfax County inspects cable construction to enforce county and federal laws. If a cable operator or its subcontractors are working in an unsafe manner (see examples below), contact Cable Regulation or call 703-324-5902, TTY 711.
- Cable operators or their subcontractors working on public right-of-ways before 9:30 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m. on weekdays.
- Construction crew working without proper traffic control devices, such as orange cones and safety signs.
- Equipment left on site and not cordoned off.
- Cable lying exposed on top of the ground or trenches left open and unattended.
Cable Customer Service Standards
If you are having a problem with your cable operator, please make an effort to resolve the problem directly with your cable operator. If you have exhausted all efforts to resolve the problem yourself, you can file a complaint on-line, download a complaint form (19 KB .pdf file), or contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435, TTY 711 to have a complaint form sent to you.
Fairfax County ensures that cable operators comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Fairfax County standards for customer service, including:
- Billing disputes
- Missed appointments
- Service outages
- Poor quality of video
- Wait time when calling the company
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Fairfax County regulate cable rates?
Fairfax County does not regulate rates for cable television service. Federal law prevents local governments from regulating cable rates where there is "effective competition" as defined by federal law. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in March 2007 that there was "effective competition" in the County. If you have questions about the rates charged by a cable operator, contact the Communications Policy and Regulation Division or call 703-324-5902, TTY 711.
What do the “franchise fees” and “Public, Educational and Government (PEG) support” charges on my cable bill mean?
Fairfax County’s cable franchise agreements require the cable operators to pay for the use of the public rights-of-way through franchise fees and support for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) cable channels. Federal law allows the cable operators to pass on these fees to subscribers. A portion of these fees goes to support Channel 16, the Fairfax County government channel, and the government institutional network.
Do I have a choice of cable providers?
The county issues only non-exclusive franchises for cable television service. The Board of Supervisors revised the County Code to make it easier for competitive cable service providers to enter the market. Fairfax County currently administers three cable franchises. Comcast Cable provides cable television service to subscribers in the Reston area of Fairfax County. Cox Communications provides cable television service to subscribers in all other areas of the county. Verizon provides cable service in certain areas of the County overlapping those served by Cox and Comcast.
Cable Franchise Documents
Fairfax County Communications Ordinance
This section of the Fairfax County Code addresses cable franchises and cable service.
Chapter 9.1 (Communications) is the section of the Fairfax County Code that addresses cable television and other communications services. Chapter 9.1 includes the terms and conditions for constructing and operating a cable television system in Fairfax County and the County's authority to administer and oversee the fulfillment of the franchise requirements. It was revised in January 2001 to include provisions that better promote cable system competition in Fairfax County and improve customer service standards enforcement.
Cox Communications Franchise Agreement
On May 14, 2013, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and adopted an ordinance granting a new non-exclusive franchise to CoxCom LLC, d/b/a/ Cox communications Northern Virginia (“Cox”) to provide cable service to households and businesses in Fairfax County other than the Reston Franchise Area. The new Franchise Agreement is effective June 9, 2013, for a term of ten years. Cox acquired its cable system in Fairfax County from Media General Cable, Inc., in 1999, with a 15-year prior franchise term ending on June 9, 2013.
Comcast Cable Franchise Agreement
In May 2005, the County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and adopted an ordinance granting a non-exclusive cable television franchise to Comcast for the Reston area of Fairfax County. Comcast agreed to provide cable television to Reston area residents and businesses, as well as to schools, libraries, and other public organizations. Comcast completed a full upgrade of its cable system in 1999. Comcast’s cable service is available to all Reston area households and without line extension charges to at least 85% of households.
Verizon Cable Franchise Agreement
In September 2005, the County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and adopted an ordinance granting a non-exclusive cable television franchise to Verizon for the entire county (North County, South County, and Reston franchise areas). Verizon agreed to provide cable television to Fairfax County residents and businesses, as well as to schools, libraries, and other public organizations. Verizon's cable service will be available to all Fairfax County households and without line extension charges to at least 85% of households by 2012.
Fairfax County filed information with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the price of bundled and stand alone cable services, the benefits of local franchise build-out requirements, the speed with which Fairfax County negotiated its most recent cable franchise, and the amount of locally-produced, foreign language and closed captioned programming being televised on county public, educational, and governmental access channels. The FCC will use this information to provide its 13th annual report to Congress regarding the market for the delivery of video programming.
State of Competition for Video Programming (MB Docket No. 06-189) ; Executive Summary Only ; Key Points (not part of the FCC filing)