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Local Comcast at high risk of discontinuance

January 8, 2013

Waiting two long years for an answer would probably qualify as an act that goes well beyond patience, but the patience the city of West Point has had with Comcast Cable and Internet Services has reached its max.
Now the city is on the brink of taking permanent action against the company.
For decades, Comcast has paid the city of West Point $1.50 per pole attachment, which was the rate set in 1960, but West Point Water and Light Superintendent Dwight Prisock that fee is way less than today’s average market rate for electrical pole rentals. He said most cities require that companies that use city poles now pay anywhere from $12 to $25 per pole.
Since publication of the last Daily Times Leader article discussing Comcast’s pole rental fee to West Point, Comcast has been communicating with the city, trying to come to a beneficial agreement. But Prisock said it’s been nearly a month since the city last heard from Comcast officials.
“It appears they want to negotiate but not finalize the deal,” Prisock said.
In Tuesday’s regular meeting of the West Point Board of Mayor and Selectmen, the Water and Light Department asked the board to pass a resolution authorizing Chief Administrative Officer Randy Jones to order the removal of Comcast’s attachments from the city’s poles.
City of West Point officials sent Comcast a letter about two weeks ago requesting that Comcast either send a check for $23 per pole attachment for pole rentals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 or sign and return the contract, which the city has already finalized and signed. Upon receiving a signed contract from Comcast the city of West Point would re-invoice the company for $15 per pole attachment instead of $23 per pole. Comcast currently has 1,691 attachments on city-owned electrical poles throughout West Point.
Prisock said Comcast also owes the city nearly $6,000 in underpaid franchise fees, and the city is waiting to receive that money from Comcast that would be put in the city’s general fund. He said the company has not responded to the city yet on this particular item either.
“We’re at the point where we don’t know what to do,” Prisock said. “We’ve tried to do everything in good faith and worked very hard to put something together. We actually negotiated down to their benefit, but we needed a contract that protects the city. The protections that we wanted for the city appears to be part of the issue.”
Another part of the issue, he said, is that Comcast requested an open-ended, perpetual contract
Comcast of West Point serves about 2700 customers, all of whom the company would lose if the city opts to authorize the passing of the resolution. Should the city pull the plug on Comcast, residents of West Point still have the option of Direct TV, Dish Network or AT&T. Prisock said the city expects AT&T to present an offer soon, as AT&T already has a deal in place to roll out an offer nationwide.
If there is a resolution, the city will give Comcast a 30-day written notice to remove the attachments, and if Comcast does not remove the attachments in the allotted amount of time the city will remove the attachments at Comcast’s expense.
A Comcast representative could not be reached Tuesday for comment.
*As this article was written prior to Tuesday’s meeting, any action the board took on this matter is not included in the article. The Daily Times Leader will bring you an update on this issue later this week.

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