The 4th most-commented story on CDNews is a post on Broadstripe cable that was submitted by lavicat back in April. It quickly became a sounding board for people to vent their anger about our neighborhood cable service. And the topic has come up several times since, most recently in a scanner report last week where several commenters wished that Comcast’s rouge contractors would bring their services over here.
In an effort to find out more about Broadstripe’s relationship with the city, I called up Tony Perez, Director of the city’s Office of Cable Communications. He said the CD’s cable situation goes back years, when the city’s first cable operator refused to provide service in the neighborhood (the fact that the city ever allowed that to happen tells us a lot about how things used to run around here). That lasted for a number of years until one of the predecessors of Broadstripe came in to fill the gap.
None of the city’s cable franchise agreements are exclusive, theoretically allowing any company to come in and provide service at any time. Mr. Perez said that the city has tried to encourage more cable competition, even asking Comcast to come in and provide their services in the CD. But Comcast has made a business decision not to do so. Capital cost is one factor, usually in the range of $200 per home that is passed by aerial cable (whether they buy services or not). But you’ve got to wonder whether the handful of cable operators have just decided that they all prefer their monopolies to real competition and thus have just agreed to not mess around with each other’s service areas.
Broadstripe just signed a new 10-year deal with the city last year, so they’re not going anywhere. That all means that if you’re not happy with Broadstripe, there’s not a lot of other options out there. Satellite is one, and is what we’ve had at CDNews World HQ for years. But when I add up the total cost we pay for satellite (DirecTV), DSL (Speakeasy), and VOIP (Speakeasy) it becomes a shockingly big number, even if we are happy with the level of service we get from each. Mr. Perez said that the mayor is actively seeking private-sector partners to deploy a fiber-to-the-home broadband solution for the city. However, that’s all very preliminary and may never materialize.
If you do have complaints about your Broadstripe service and can’t get any traction with the company, the city does have staff that can help you out. Just call their complaint line at 206-684-8498 or fill out their online form at http://www.seattle.gov/cable/comments.htm. And in comments to the story back in April, Broadstripe VP Tom Martinson offered his email address to try and help anyone with problems: [email protected] .