Residents of Revere, MA will soon be getting the opportunity to tell Comcast No!

By: Patrick Wilson

Most of the United States is Monopolized by a handful of Cable Television/ Internet Providers. In the northeast the corporation that has a stranglehold on the area is Comcast. For years and years, Comcast has been raising the price of service and changing packages so as to nickel and dime the price to the equivalent of a car payment. Comcast advertises more sensible pricing for new customers but does not let existing customers take advantage of these offers. Bad service, as well as negative customer service interactions, plague areas where there is no choice but Comcast.

For many people, the answer has been to cut the cord. While there are creative ways of attempting to bypass Comcast, limitations in bandwidth and throttling of some sites in favor of others making this difficult at times. Type Comcast into any browser and you will find many many stories of woe from customers at their wit’s end. The answer from Comcast is generally put up or shut up.

There is something else that can be done. Cable companies must have what is called a franchise agreement with the municipality in which they are providing service. This agreement includes a fee which is passed along to the customer which gives them the rights to telephone poles and other property for their wires and other equipment. They must also provide public access channels and free services to municipal bldgs. Based on the agreement with the municipality, there are mechanisms that allow for some regulation of the services that are provided. Some cities also have the ability to have two providers.

In Revere Massachusetts, Comcast has been the only choice for a very long time, and before that Time Warner. Local citizens expressed their concerns to the then-new mayor Brian Arrigo, who promised to do something about this. Brian Arrigo narrowly won his bid for Mayor of Revere in 2015 by 108 votes. Mayor Arrigo followed through on his promise and RCN is now connecting Revere a neighborhood at a time to its services. It is estimated that the entire city should be connected at the beginning of 2019, giving the residents of Revere a choice for the first time. Based upon RCN’s pricing in the Boston area they will be providing the same or better services for less than half the price that Comcast is currently charging.

Many households may be leaving Comcast as a result of having a choice, being able to leave behind years of anguish. The benefit created here is the ability to choose better service and pricing through competition. Yes, this is capitalism at work.

 

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