CLEARFIELD – Fran Bradley of Atlantic Broadband spoke to Clearfield Borough Council at last night’s committee meeting regarding renewal of the Borough’s franchise agreement. Bradley said Atlantic Broadband is currently operating under an agreement that expired in 2008, which was actually contracted with Atlantic Broadband’s predecessor.
Bradley said the council had received a copy of the proposed new contract for review earlier this year. Borough Solicitor F. Cortez “Chip” Bell noted that even though the previous agreement has expired, Atlantic Broadband has continued to honor the agreement and is still making franchise payments to the borough.
Bradley noted the maximum franchise fee allowed by federal law per the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is 5 percent. He said most communities agree to just under the maximum. He also noted that the act has limited any control that municipalities have regarding customer rates. The Maximum Permitted Rate (MPR) is regulated by the Act.
Bradley noted the current limited or basic rate for Atlantic Broadband is $23.43 per month for 18 channels. The act also requires that cable services provide a 30-day notice to municipalities as well as customers regarding any rate increases, he said.
Council member James Kling asked Bradley why the Atlantic Broadband billing statements list the Clearfield Borough office as the contact for billing questions when it has nothing to do with the billing. Bradley explained that the Telecommunications Act requires that the franchise holder be listed on the billing statements. He said the borough can have that changed by submitting a letter requesting that it be removed.
Bradley said there will still be two times each year that the franchise holder is required to be listed, that being when there are rate adjustments and equipment adjustments. Kling said the borough office gets a lot of calls from Atlantic Broadband customers that the staff has to refer to Atlantic Broadband offices.
Curt Kosko spoke to the council regarding operations information for Atlantic Broadband. Kosko said he is from Tyrone, and has been in the cable business for 27 years. Kosko said, with everything going digital in telecommunications, Atlantic Broadband has upgraded to an all-digital platform.
Kosko announced that on Oct. 17, Atlantic Broadband will be launching 24 HD (High Definition) channels. He said they will be launching a new TiVo (Enhanced DVR) service in October, starting first in Maryland, then throughout the service area. Plus, VOD (Video on Demand) service will be released the first quarter of next year. Kosko said Atlantic Broadband is also committed to being the fastest Internet service
Kosko noted that all four of Atlantic Broadband’s call centers are located locally, in Altoona, Johnstown, Uniontown and one in Cumberland, MD.
Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said she and Bell would review the franchise renewal and present it to council for approval.