Fairfax County issues only non-exclusive franchises for cable television service. The franchises granted to existing cable companies do not prevent additional cable operators from providing service in the county. In fact, federal law prohibits exclusive cable franchises; see 47 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1). However, due primarily to the high capital costs of building a new cable system, it is rare to find new providers willing to enter the market.
The county currently administers three cable franchises. Comcast Cable provides cable television service to subscribers in the Reston area. Cox Communications provides cable television service to subscribers in all other areas of the county. Verizon provides cable service in the entire county, including the areas served by both Cox and Comcast. Except where special conditions apply, such as a low housing density in rural areas or inability to gain access to the property, County residents have a choice of two cable providers.
The county is open to all possible competition in the multichannel video market. For economic and historical reasons, however, cable competition is relatively rare and hard to come by. The county cannot compel competitors to enter the market if they are unwilling to do so.
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