Community Post

Cable in the CD: Only Broadstripe for Now

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   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] .

31 thoughts on “Cable in the CD: Only Broadstripe for Now

  1. complaint sent, again. I wish Verizon would be able to hop in with FiOS or something around here. I’d really rather not deal with a company like Comcast again even though they are marginally better than broadstripe (can you believe they just RECENTLY started allowing web payments when they are a cable/ISP??? ridiculous.)

  2. I live at 23rd and E. Denny Way and I am able to have Comcast (though I just recently canceled it). What is the boundary for Comcast penetration into the CD? When I had it hooked up, they came out and dug up the driveway to bury the cable.

  3. I’m not sure where the boundary is but we have Comcast at 25th and Pike. Not a big fan of Comcast but apparently we’re lucky to have it.

  4. I was wanting to post how crappy (thats the nice word) Broadstripe is this morning. It goes out all the time and for basic cable w/high speed internet its almost $110 per month!!!!!!!

    not to mention how rude the customer service is….grrrrrrr

    making my complaint right now.

    ps. are there ANY other options besides satellite?

  5. So it seems that south of Union is Broadstripe and North of Union is Comcast? That’s just from reading the responses so far.

  6. Tony Perez said that he had a detailed map of the service area that he would try to get added to the city website. I’ll update this story once it’s available.

    In the meantime, here’s a description of the boundaries where Broadstripe is the only provider (they do compete with Comcast in some areas of Capitol Hill, downtown, and Queen Anne):
    …from the intersection of Interstate 5 and Yesler Way,
    East on Yesler Way to Broadway,
    North on Broadway to Madison Street,
    East on Madison Street to 23rd Avenue,
    South on 23rd Avenue to East Spring Street,
    East on East Spring Street to 31st Avenue,
    South on 31st Avenue South to Rainier Avenue South,
    North on Rainier Avenue South to South Atlantic Street,
    West on South Atlantic Street to 15th Avenue South,
    South on 15th Avenue South to Beacon Avenue South,
    South on Beacon Avenue South to South Benefit Street,
    West on South Benefit Street to Interstate 5,
    North on Interstate 5 to Yesler Way.

  7. For those of you who haven’t subscribed with Comcast before, it’s known (not affectionately) by many current customers as COMCRAP. Broadstripe (operated by Millennium Digital Media before) has been fairly responsive in my experience. I called a few weeks ago about the higher HD digital channels pixelizing/tiling and they were right out a day later. There were some adjustments to be made both to the box and the wiring and it’s definitely much better.

    HD channels are affected by cold temperatures and the higher channel locations, for some weird reason. Maybe when the old analog signals disappear next year then the HD channels can move down the channel list from the 700s.

  8. I’m in Madrona and I have Comcast. I subscribed after 9/11 (for obvious reasons), and enjoyed it at first (and grateful I didn’t have to watch more attacks on the US). Now I’m totally borrowed– religious crap and shopping channels. I’m thinking of canceling and going to using my TV as the monitor for the DVD player. We’ll going to be to watch TV on our computers soon enough.

  9. So, back in April I joined in and complained how terrible my Broadstripe service was and then I wrote a complaint directly to Broadstripe. Since then, my service has improved considerably. Much better than my Comcast was when I lived by the zoo.

    I don’t know if there’s a direct correlation between my email to BS and my service improvement because I never heard anything from them. But, whatever… it works now.

    Anyone else near 17th and Union notice a big improvement in service?

  10. in Madison Valley, west of MLK, south of Madison. The guy tried to get me to bundle and buy more services the other day…

  11. I live at 16th and Jefferson and made the decision when I moved nearly two years ago to go with Clearwire for internet service (I don’t have cable or landline phone). Mistake. My charming old house is oriented in such a way that I get at most two bars of uneven reception. My connectivity is uneven at best and when it rains or is cloudy or EVEN sometimes when there isn’t a cloud in the sky I’m out of luck. Watching video online? Not happening. IMing? Sketchy. They were happy to sell me an internal antenna only, gosh, it’s not compatible with my old wiring. Otherwise? $200 to cancel my contract early. I would rather have Comcast, to be honest. Or Broadstripe. I’d rather be tempted to upgrade to cable. Anything to have consistent internet service.

  12. DirectTV is the way to go for cable in the CD (if you don’t have a landlord that forbids it). For internet I use Clearwire and it works pretty well for me, but it most definitely matters how your house and modem are situated. But they’ll let you try it out for 30 days so you can test drive without getting locked into the contract.

  13. After thinking long and hard if I wanted to be a subscriber of Broadstripe, I called Direct TV and they have some really great deals. They are comparable to Comcast (not that I could get it if I wanted) and the customer service seems great.

    For less than what I would pay with the crappy Basic/Extended service with Broadstripe I will be getting over 200 hundred channels (The Plus DVR package), free DVR, no equipment or installation fee’s (Broadstripe charges over $30 for installation!). They also have a $18 rebate for signing up, plus the person I talked to gave me an additional $10 off the first 4 months, plus you can get a one time $20 credit for going green and setting up auto-bill pay. There is a fee of $4.99 because I am getting this on an additional tv and $5.99 for the DVR receiver.

    I’m getting all of this for $39.98 for the first 4 months, then $44.99 for the next 8 months, then it goes to the regular price of $62.99/month (which is still better than Broadstripe because it has DVR). And I get Showtime free for the first 6 months. It is worth looking into… I researched for a few days before making a decision. When it is all said and done for the next 2 years it will cost me about $1,321.59 for Direct TV and it would cost about $1,458.87 for Broadstripe. It is about a $137.28 savings for those 2 years (if my math is correct)… and it is saving me from crappy customer service.

    The best part of all is they can come tomorrow afternoon and I just got off the phone with them about two hours ago. :)

    29th & Judkins

  14. I don’t have any complaints about Broadstripe’s service…I’ve had a great experience with both cable and internet connection.

  15. Tony Perez is also a representative for the Office of Cable Communications at the CTTAB meetings held monthly. I was a member of the board for a little over a year and unfortunately found it rather ineffective. That being said, the meetings are open to the public and do offer an opportunity to speak directly to Tony as well as Jill Novik, also of the OCC.

    Incidentally, if you have problems with your cable, they both encourage people to call their office directly with concerns. The OCC has the authority to require cable companies to issue refunds when they violate their terms of service.

    More information about CTTAB can be found here:

  16. I was at the Public community hearing that Broadstripe held when the franchise was up for renewal. It was sad to see the seniors who depend on television as a resource having to put up with shoddy service, outrageous basic cable bills and non-responsive call center staff.

    This February, television (the rabbit ears kind) will transition to digital, meaning you won’t be able to see tv unless you have the following:
    -A new digital television (less than 3 years old)
    -A digital converter box (you can buy at Radio Shack for about 60 bucks)

    The Office of Cable Communications is hosting a free seminar on October 1 from 10am – 12 noon (at the Jefferson Community Center on Beacon Hill)to talk about the transition and where you can get coupons to offset the cost of a new converter.

    I am concerned that poor folks, seniors and a whole bunch of other folks will not be ready when the transition happens. Of course, if you have cable, they tell you you don’t have anything to worry about. They also don’t tell you that you have choices AND that after 3 years they will legally be able to charge you more for digital conversion.

    More information about the transition is on the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights website. Here is the link

    I hope to keep folks posted on more DTV events in the upcoming months. Cable is not the only choice here, folks.


  17. I spoke with Broadstripe VP Tom Martinson several months ago shortly after I made my original post in Aoril. I complained about the exorbitant rates, the lousy tech and customer service, the constant service interruptions, etc. He listened and said nice things and seemed sincere, adding that he had only recently joined the company. He acknowledged that the company had problems it was working to address (including infrastructure improvements). He even said he would have someone look into my cable bill (though I doubt anyone did). Since that time, IMO, quality of service has improved somewhat, and service interruptions are now far less frequent. However, their prices remain sky-high, so much so that I recently decided to cancel premium-channel service. Customer service did nothing to persuade me not to drop the premium channels. I would consider switching to DirectTV but alas it does not support TiVo, and I happen to be a TiVo fan.

  18. We also have Direct TV – with Tivo, and it still works just fine. I’m not sure if that’s just because we’ve had it for years and we’re grandfathered in, but we did just get a notice that Direct TV would be continuing its partnership with Tivo, so as far as I know even new customers can use their Tivo with them.

    We decided on satellite after seeing how bad our neighbors cable looked – lots of ghosting – fuzzy picture – looked like they were receiving it through rabbit ears. We thought maybe it was because of the power substation, but maybe its just bad….

    We’ve got our phone and internet with EarthLink and despite some serious hassles when we decided we wanted to switch the phone to them we’ve been pretty happy with the service. It’s about the same price to have our phone service with them as we were paying for the internet alone, so its one time bundling actually made sense.

  19. I’m not sure the cable areas have anything to do with EarthLink’s service area. I’m on 22nd south of Madison, but north of Union and have Earthlink DSL

  20. After having had comcast for about ten years with not one problem. moving into the leschi/CD area Broadstripe is a BIG letdown. No on demand. Only allowed one digital box per household. spotty service. Tried direct TV with a Qwest bundle… Even worse than Broadstripe…. Its enough to make a person move to a comcast area.

  21. so after 5 days of telephone calls and actually setting up an earthlink account, earthlink was able to get comcast (their cable provider) on the phone to confirm that they do not provide service to my house. I had mentioned this to earthlink (4 times), but was told they could provide me service.

    Unfortunatly, I had to call broadstripe back and ask them to not disconnect my service as previously requested.
    Modem rental and high speed internet from broadstripe costs about $60.00. Earthlink would have been about $45.00. Not a happy broadstripe customer.

  22. Qwest will let you sign up for internet-only, no phone line required, which is quick and easy if your apartment/house/condo is already wired for phone service. The price is lower than Broadstripe. The service is better. In addition, it seems like people at Qwest, unlike Broadstripe, have actually used the internet and are familiar with how it should work.

    I don’t use cable TV or want any of the crummy packages (with messed up HD channels, to boot) that Broadstripe offers. Their pricing for (incredibly low-performing) cable internet service is very high, with performance that is less than 50% of what Comcast routinely offers.

    It is really unfortunate that Broadstripe is not a publicly held company. Would love to take massive position on the short side.

  23. I finally gave up on Broadstripe after 5 years of progressively worse Internet speed and quality. My family members in Comcast areas were getting speed 7 to 10 times faster than mine. On Broadstripe, I was averaging 300 to 500 kbps download and under 100 kbps upload. My connection also froze up regularly. It was simply impossible to download videos under those conditions. Even using email was a challenge. I’ve had Qwest for a couple of weeks now, and my speed is typically 5 to 6 mbps download and over 500 kbps upload. Consider me another happy Qwest convert.

  24. Re comment: Qwest internet connection speed “is typically 5 to 6 mbps download and 500 kbps upload”.

    I’m switching to DirecTV for the HD channels, & thinking about my choices for high-speed internet connection: Broadstripe vs. Qwest. (I currently get 3 – 5 mbps download with Broadstrip’s top-tier internet connection; it’s been absolutely reliable at my location).

    Does Qwest offer more than one “level” of DSL service? If so, to which “level” does the quoted 5 mbps download speed apply? Has anyone else in my area (17th and Jefferson) achieved download speeds close to this? Will this speed deteriorate as more customers connect to Qwest?

    I’d appreciate hearing anyone else’s experiences, especially concerning customer service with Qwest DSL: any hassles with initial installation; long-term reliability; etc.


    — Larry G.

  25. One thing that should be noted is that analog cable can also be phased out with the 2009 rules. The FCC approved these changes as a part of removing Over the Air analog signals. Fortunately Broadstripe is always a few years behind the curve (On Demand, PPV etc..) so you won’t have to pay for the “digital” non hd cable box.

    I had an issue recently and they couldn’t send anyone out for 3 days!!! I am using their VOIP telephone service!!! What type of BS is this? Good/Bad at least the Telco’s had a service level agreement.

    In addition have you noticed the price hikes lately? I was not even notified and they increased my rates. I hope we get competition via Verizon fios soon. I don’t mind paying more for Quality service.

    Comcast vs. Whoever I have multiple digital cable boxes, was it not a option or are they going to charge you more?

    Really think about it in this economy, we are spending at least 1000/subscriber for sub par internet/cable service.

  26. After waiting 10 minutes for an answer, the “excellent customer service” could not answer any questions.
    This was after I sent email that was unanswered also.
    Question 1: Why does this one channels guides not match the programming?
    Reply: “It’s their fault, we have no control over it.”
    Question 2: When are we going to get some additional channels? Where can we look to see what channels are
    being considered and where can we provide input? (lost several channels going off satellite because trees
    got in the way).
    Anwser: You can check our website when we make a change, or it will also show up on you bill maybe?”

    Again no customer service. Don’t know why they make you wait to get a non-answer. Wish we had more options.