Thursday, October 23, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;53.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ra.png;2014-10-23 15:10:50
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hollis and Brookline may change cable TV from Charter to Comcast

HOLLIS – Cable TV viewers in the town of Hollis, which already has the area’s most interesting cable-TV situation due to competition by its telephone company TDS, may be seeing another interesting change as Comcast and Charter Communications swap millions of customers nationwide.

The change, which would also affect Brookline as well as at least two nearby towns over the Massachusetts border, would replace Charter Communication with Comcast as the local cable-TV provider. Hollis and Brookline are the only non-Comcast towns in the region. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

HOLLIS – Cable TV viewers in the town of Hollis, which already has the area’s most interesting cable-TV situation due to competition by its telephone company TDS, may be seeing another interesting change as Comcast and Charter Communications swap millions of customers nationwide.

The change, which would also affect Brookline as well as at least two nearby towns over the Massachusetts border, would replace Charter Communication with Comcast as the local cable-TV provider. Hollis and Brookline are the only non-Comcast towns in the region.

The swap, part of a transfer of several million customers around the country, depends upon federal regulatory approval of the merger between Comcast and Time-Warner – a merger that has drawn concern about giving Comcast too much control over broadband connections as well as television.

For Hollis, there’s a bit of irony in the possibility of a change, since it had been spurned by Comcast.

“The town had reached out to Comcast about three four years ago and actually requested them to see if they would consider extending services to Hollis,” said Town Administrator Troy Brown. “They informed us that normally they don’t build new infrastructure in rural communities unless they can purchase an existing franchise.”

Selectmen recently authorized their attorney to begin discussions about the franchise agreement, which ran out several years ago. Charter Communications, which just emerged from bankruptcy last year, has been operating under the old franchise agreement in town since then.

Last year, Hollis residents received the unusual luxury of competition in the cable-television business when TDS, the company that bought the Hollis Telephone Co. a year ago, brought TDStv into town, adding a full TV channel lineup to its broadband and voice-phone service.

Hollis is one of 16 towns nationwide, and two in the state, to get the TV service from TDS, which became one of the nation’s largest phone companies by buying and combining a number of independent companies, often in more rural locations.

“We were fortunate – we were the first ones in New Hampshire from what I understand to have this,” said Robert Labednick, chairman of the town Cable Advisory Committee.

“Now we have competition and it’s lovely,” said Selectman Chairman Mark LeDoux. “We have a lot of delighted people that there’s now competition in our community.”

It is rare to have landline competition for cable television, as compared to competition from satellite providers like DirecTV, because the cost of putting cables on utility poles means that after one provider has entered a community and signed up customers, there isn’t enough extra market to justify a second provider.

FairPoint Communications, the telephone provider for most of the state, toyed with developing a television system over its fiber-optic lines but dropped that plan. It offers joint plans with DirecTV.

Comcast’s swap with Charter is part of its plan to reduce the number of video customers by about 3.9 million in order to cut concerns about the size of a merged Comast and TimeWarner.

Under the plan Charter will acquire approximately 1.4 million existing Time Warner Cable subscribers, increasing its video customer base to approximately 5.7 million, and making Charter the second largest cable operator in the United States.

Separately, Charter and Comcast will also each transfer approximately 1.6 million customers each to balance out coverage areas – Hollis and Brookline would be part of that swap.

David Brooks can be reached at 94-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter @granitegeek.