City Council approves cable franchise agreement with CenturyLink

The City Council voted 12-1 Friday to approve a five-year cable franchise agreement with CenturyLink — ending Comcast’s nearly 40-year monopoly in the city as the sole cable provider.

City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) voted no and expressed concerns about the city’s ability to enforce its goals outlined in the agreement and ensure that as many residents as possible are served by the provider.

Under terms of the franchise agreement, CenturyLink commits to a 15 percent rollout of cable 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.

The goal is to build-out the entire city in five years, according to a city staff report presented to the Council.

Glidden also raised concerns that the city’s agreement would set a precedent for CenturyLink’s agreements with communities across the state and make it more difficult for them to advocate for their goals.

Meanwhile, City Council Member John Quincy (Ward 11), chair of the Ways & Means Committee, said the deal is in the best interest of residents. “We have to take the first leap,” he said.

City Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) urged CenturyLink to expand its offering of high-speed Internet in the city as well. He noted he’s cut the cord with Comcast and relies on Netflix and other streaming services for television shows.

Starting Jan. 1, 2016, CenturyLink must meet with the city and report on its progress for deploying service and complying with anti-redlining agreements. It also must show exact locations within the city where it’s providing service.

The cable provider has also committed to providing nine access channels in HD focused on culturally diverse programming.

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