Comcast agrees to expand service area
by Jazz Clark
A 10-year franchise agreement has been made between cable and internet provider Comcast and the Morgan County Commission as of December 6.
Comcast officials say they have been building infrastructure, mapping out areas and surveying in Morgan County, and the two bodies have finally come to an agreement.
The new agreement calls for expanding cable coverage in the county while franchise fees remain the same. More homes than normal would be wired for service due to the flexibility of this contract.
Paul Comes, director of Government Affairs for Comcast, said the process for determining a plan had been ongoing for over a year.
“Going forward, we’ll be looking annually at additional areas that come up for expansion, as well as customer service issues,” said Comes. “We’re always looking at additional areas to build, where it makes economic sense to do so.”
He also hopes expanding service will make Comcast more prepared to handle outages.
“What we had done, as we went from Fidelity to Comcast, was switch from analog to digital and we had a few more service calls as a result. This is typical,” Comes said.
Jerry Berman, who headed the county’s franchise renewal committee, said the key is to improve service for residents with cable.
“I think we’ve come to a resolution which is as good for the county as possible given the current telecommunications environment and current state of the economy,” Berman said. “I think we have a contract worth signing.”
The contract should turn around in three weeks, making the partnership between the county and Comcast official for ten more years.
Additionally, three new courtesy cable and internet accounts were added during franchise renewal, including the Morgan County Health Department, courthouse and hospital. Additional proposed courtesy accounts are the public library, the arts center, Pleasant View Community Center and the county-appointed cable officer to monitor service.
The agreement also provides for the county to establish an educational, government access channel. Comcast will help wire buildings and obtain equipment to broadcast government meetings and local events over the Comcast channel.
A physical bill-paying location will be determined somewhere in the county to help customers who don’t like to pay their bills online.