Council committee approves cable TV franchise agreement with CenturyLink

The City Council’s Ways and Means Committee has approved a cable television franchise agreement with CenturyLink — a company that will compete with Comcast for cable services in the city.

The full Council will vote on the agreement Friday, May 15.

Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink is the nation’s third largest telecommunications company.

The cable provider’s agreement with the city calls for a 15 percent rollout of services in the city over the next two years. Households in all of the city’s 13 wards need to be part of the initial rollout, including a significant number of lower income households.

City Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) said he would like to see a wider rollout in the city to give Minneapolis residents more options for cable services.

Johnson and other Council members expressed hopes that new competition in the market for cable television will result in lower prices for Minneapolis customers.

The goal is to have the entire city built out within five years, according to the agreement.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, CenturyLink is required to meet with the city and show progress on goals for deploying service, compliance with anti-redlining requirements and a map showing exact locations where the company is currently providing service in the city.

Currently Comcast’s penetration rate in the city is around 40 to 50 percent, according to a city staff report.

CenturyLink is also required to provide nine access channels focused on culturally diverse programming as part of the agreement.