Possible to break a cable monopoly?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mike Clark, May 22, 2003.

  1. Mike Clark

    Mike Clark Auditioning

    May 14, 1999
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    (I also posted this on DVDTalk. For those that are seeing this a 2nd time, I'm sorry for the cross post, but I want as many ideas and solutions as possible. This is something that's really bugging me!)

    I'm wondering if it's possible to get around a cable companie's monopoly in a certain area. First a little background.

    I live in a subdivision in a small town. The thing is, the subdivision is actually outside the city limits (we don't actually get city services such as water, garbage, etc, nor do we need permits for building, there's no code enforcement, etc etc)

    In this subdivision our cable company is Classic Cable, which by the way declared bankruptcy in Nov 2001. It appears now that they have been bought out by another company, although their share price seems to be at 0.00 (CLCS..or maybe it was CLSC)

    In the actual town (and also the 2 other closest neighboring towns, so on all borders of the subdivision) service is provided by Time Warner, with digital and RoadRunner available.

    From my house to the main road (where TW's lines run) it's almost exactly 1 mile (by road...probably 1/2 mile straight line)

    Ok, so my questions.... Since we're actually not in town, there is no local government that this cable company has a contract with. I talked to someone at TW, but it was just a regular CSR who didn't really seem to know much, but wouldn't pass me on to a supervisor, just claimed that TW was "trying to get into the area"
    However, since there can't be any contract, is there any reason that TW can't just move right into the area without having to work something out with the other company? If I could get to someone higer up in TW, would it be possible for me to pay for a line to be run to my house? Any idea how much this would cost? (Although I'm sure I wouldn't have to pay it all myself. I know I could get at least 1 other person close by that would want to switch and would be willing to pay *some* and the other 2 closest neighbors would gladly switch to TW if it was available, not sure if they'd be willing to chip in on paying for the line to be run though.)

    The reason I want to do this is twofold. 1) I want high speed net access. The phone lines suck in this area, and the best I can connect at via dialup is 31k (well, 31.2). 2) I'd like to get rid of my satellite dish, but the cable company SUCKS! The picture quality is horrible, and they don't even carry a UPN or WB affiliate (of course, I'm not getting those on satellite either...)

    So, if anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it. Also, any estimates on how much it'd actually cost to have the line strung 1 mile from TW's existing lines would be appreciated.
  2. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

    Mar 24, 1999
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    If you aren't in any city limits then your county is in charge. Have your tried to contact them? If they don't have an exclusive contract I'd mail TW a letter, and spell the whole thing out.

  3. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

    Feb 22, 2001
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    Cable companies are restricted by franchises given by the municipality you're in. TW would have to pay your municipality the franchise fee to gain the rights to sell cable. Even if you are a mile from TW's nearest cable run they still couldn't run it to you.

    For there to be any hope you need to get your other neighbors together and go to your township or county (likely township) and tell them (with a nice petition signed by your neighbors) explaining why your present cable company blows monkey dingus and why you want TW to get franchise rights. Depending upon how Maine law works, you most likely can have both companies. Talk to the Division Manager and tell him or her what it is you want to do. Tell the DM you want TW in your area and you have a petition and so many houses and if you went before your town or county would they come too if they're interested.

    It's a pain.

    Unless you have a LOT of money, running cable is prohibitively expensive. You're talking 10k plus for a mile run, likely more since nodes and fiber will have to be put in. That is serious money not just in material but in payroll hours. On top of that TW will have to pay right-of-way fees, pole rental fees, electric rates (nodes are powered 24/7), maintenance, and taxes, the total of which won't begin to be covered by your monthly payment. That's why you need more houses.

    First check what governmental entity licenses the franchise. Your current cable company should be able to tell you. Once you know that then you know whom you need to target. Get your petition, take it to TW. Then go to the government licensor. If you have enough pissed off people then you can get it changed.

    Good Luck!

    P.S. - They aren't legally a monopoly. You can have multiple franchisees in the same area. It's just rare that it happens.

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