Haverhill, Others May be Free to Offer Internet Competition

FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai.

FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai.

Haverhill and other cities may be free to build their own broadband Internet services for residents, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled yesterday.

The action—now being opposed by some Republicans in Congress—would allow municipalities to directly compete with Comcast, Verizon and other providers. Yesterday’s 3-2 vote involved petitions by Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. The municipal Internet vote was largely overshadowed by the FCC’s vote in favor of “net neutrality.” That ruling essentially blocks Internet providers from selling faster Internet access to some websites at the expense of others.

“Without it, no community has a fair shot in the digital age,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, defending her vote for communities.

Besides Rosenworcel, Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also voted to approve the measure which would trump any state laws banning municipal Internet. Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly opposed the measure. O’Rielly said the vote ends capitalism in the United States.

“This highlights the unprecedented lengths the commission is willing to go in undermining the free market system, the federal statutes, the U.S. constitution, and common sense in order to dictate where, when, and how broadband is provided in this country,” he said.

Haverhill city councilors recently discussed the future of cable, Internet and satellite during a debate over Haverhill Community Television’s ill-fated attempt to ban Stanley Colten from serving on its board.

Councilor William H. Ryan hinted the city could cut HCTV off during the next round of Comcast negotiations.

“Why they did it, what’s going on and what their future plans are, so that we can be on board because there is a point in the next few years where we have to renew the contract with the cable provider. That obviously should be a very important day for people at local access TV, because if the city went in a different direction, it could be fatal."

HCTV is a non-profit corporation and received $816,266 from Comcast subscribers in 2013. The amount comes from a contract signed by the City of Haverhill with the cable company.

2 thoughts on “Haverhill, Others May be Free to Offer Internet Competition

  1. I too regularly watch only a small number of TV channels offered by Comcast, so I constantly feel that I am lining Comcast’s pockets and subsidizing not only HCTV, but other Comcast subscribers as well. Comcast’s customer service also leaves a lot to be desired, and that’s no small issue. My bill is $179.00 per month, which can’t be called chump change. I have only enhanced basic TV service, internet, and phone. I do not have any premium channels.

    It is an insult that HCTV either has the money to plunk nearly a million dollars on the table for a business condominium that they could well do without, or qualifies for a substantial loan that would enable them to purchase a palatial condo at Harbor Place. And have they explained their rationale to the residents of Haverhill? Not that I’ve seen.

    Sounds to me that HCTV has too much money and they don’t know what to do with it, other than spend in ways that will do nothing to enhance and improve the quality of their programming. It really takes a conscientious watch-dog like Stanley Colten to blow the lid off and shine a bright light on HCTV shenanigans.

    Is there another way to provide reasonably priced cable, internet and land line phone service to the good citizens of Haverhill? I certainly hope so.

  2. Ends capitalism? Don’t you mean it ends control by huge corporations that spend billions of dollars paying off lawmakers to make sure they are protected from competition, taxes, any any oversight while they gouge the rate payers. Paying for a service at the rate of 112.00/mo when you user 2% of the forced channels is highway robbery.
    Comcast and their current competitors should where black masks, hat and wear silver six guns.