A Quincy-based company is expected to win approval over the next few months to provide internet, television and voice competition in Haverhill.
Breezeline, formerly known as Atlantic Broadband, is the eighth largest cable operator in the country. It plans to spend $28 million to wire the city, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. The company, better known locally under the names of properties it purchased from MetroCast and Charter Communications, already operates over the border in New Hampshire. It is the first challenger to Comcast’s historical dominance in Haverhill. Fiorentini called the company’s entrance “years in the making.”
“Since the earliest days of taking office, we have been actively searching for a second cable company in Haverhill to provide competition and options for our residents and businesses,” Fiorentini said in a prepared statement.
The city is negotiating a 10-year contract with Breezeline, similar to ones it has approved with Comcast. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m., in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall. City councilors are also expected to hear a presentation from the company in September.
Fiorentini said Breezeline intends to provide more than 300 channels and products “similar to what residents are currently receiving.” Breezeline’s proposal is unrelated to discussions with SiFi Networks about building a fiber network available to a variety of providers.
A study by the Federal Communications Commission suggests prices are lower where there is competition. A summary by CIO magazine reports “cable TV prices increased less in areas where ‘effective’ competition exists between two or more providers. Where there is effective competition, the report says, prices are lower by 6.4%, a ‘statistically significant’ difference.
A 2016 Temkin Group Research survey of 10,000 customers found “The poster child for poor customer experience in these industries—Comcast—was not only the lowest-scoring TV service and Internet service provider, but was also one of the lowest-scoring companies in the entire Ratings. It ranked 289th overall out of 294 companies for its TV service and ranked 284th overall for its Internet service.”
According to Fiorentini, Breezeline must provide similar public access television support as Comcast and its proposal includes financial and in-kind donations as well as commitments to environmental and social goals and responsibility.
The company said it changed its name from Atlantic Broadband this past January “to describe more accurately its expanded geographical reach.”