It allows SHENTEL to compete with COMCAST.
Frederick, Md (KM) There will soon be some competition in Frederick when it comes to cable television. In a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Board of Aldermen approved a franchise agreement with SHENTEL to provide cable TV service in the city.
“They would be brought in on the same terms as COMCAST,” says Stephan Davis, Assistant City Attorney. “As so they would be allowed to compete equally, fairly and treated equally. They would also be given a fair chance to serve the community as much as COMCAST has been able to.”
Davis also said SHENTEL would be given 24-months to complete its initial build, and provide its services in high definition immediately as it begins serving customers in Frederick city.
During the discussion prior to the vote, Alderman Derrick Shackelford asked whether the city could get a periodic report on the progress being made by SHENTEL in building the new cable system. “I think this is an important for us if we’re going to make this agreement to make sure that your company is able to do all that it can,” he said. “It’s good to say that you’re willing to do this. But contractually, we need to make sure that you’re able to do this.”
“That’s what in the agreement is that you’ll have at least annually to review where we are and what we’re doing,” responded Bryan Byrd, Government and Community Affairs Specialist for SHENTEL.
Davis also said the city has certain authorities under the franchise agreement, including having an audit conducted of SHENTEL, and visiting construction sites. “If the city needed to hold SHENTEL accountable, they would be able to even if SHENTEL wasn’t asked to produce an annual report,” he said. “At this point, I think they could anyway because they would have to be keeping track of what they’re doing as well.”
Byrd had similar comments. “Through the permitting process and everything, the city’s going to know exactly where we’re going, when we’re going, and they’ll know everything that we’re doing.”
He also said SHENTEL will be providing low income residents with affordable cable TV packages. “Our cable footprint, we’ve developed lower cost offerings that we hadn’t been offering before.,” Byrd said. “We had had lower income, but we further decreased that, and increased the speed in some our cable footprints. And work with municipalities on a case-by-case basis.”
Alderman Shackeford said that’s important. “All of our residents, particularly those in the community’s who don;t have it can have access, particularly now moving forward,” he said. “And I think the competition aspect bears that out.”
As part of the franchise agreement, SHENTEL wil provide service for the city’s Government Access Channel 99, alongside COMCAST, and making it available in high definition.
By Kevin McManus