South Bethany has officially signed a franchise agreement with Comcast for cable television service. The 10-year contract is almost identical to other municipalities’ that are also welcoming Comcast — except that South Bethany spelled out the terms of customer service standards, instead of just referencing FCC standards.
Not only do residents get an alternative choice to their current cable company, but the Town will receive 5 percent of Comcast’s gross revenues for in-town customers. This pertains only to cable TV, not the internet or phone services).
By law, cable franchises are not exclusive agreements. So Mediacom — currently the only player in town — can continue to provide service, and Comcast can compete for customers too, once it installs infrastructure (a costly job that could take 12 to 18 months, after getting the necessary permits).
“This is a very exciting moment. It’s been a long time coming that our property owners wanted an option [besides] Mediacom,” said Councilmember Sue Callaway during the Nov. 13 vote. “Our goal was to do a parallel track, improving our services with Mediacom … and also pursuing other options and leaving no stone unturned for what could happen here in South Bethany.”
Mediacom continues to hold a cable franchise agreement, which has been extended for one full year, through Jan. 1, 2022. Rather than accept a multi-year agreement, the Town has allowed several quarterly extensions since this summer, as they continue negotiating for better cable and internet service. The contract was amended to include more reporting requirements (Section 8.3): If an outage impacts all town residents, Mediacom will notify Town Hall within 48 business hours; provide quarterly performance reports of service calls, response time and resolutions; and inspect infrastructure around town semi-annually and report any appearance issues that were corrected.
“We do believe we’ve made some improvements, working with them and pushing them,” but there’s still work to be done, said Saxton. “It was a little bit fun, pushing people’s buttons a little bit to get what we wanted,” he said of the Town’s ongoing meetings with Mediacom representatives.
“I’m very pleased with the resolution [No. 6-20]. I think it will give us another year to evaluate things,” Callaway agreed.