Concord will negotiate cable contract with Atlantic Broadband, creating possibilty of TV competition

  • Concord City Hall

Monitor staff
Published: 10/13/2021 3:48:27 PM

The Concord City Council has voted to allow City Manager Tom Aspell to enter into negotiations with Atlantic Broadband to receive a cable franchise from the city, raising the possibility of new cable television competition.

Atlantic Broadband, the U.S. arm of Canadian firm Cogeco Communications, wants to build a fiber-to-the-home network throughout the city. It has said it could begin signing up customers in parts of the city as early as February with complete rollout by the end of next year.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 6 Councilor Linda Kenison said she had been contacted by several people about the company’s service and received reports of poor performance. Kenison said she had heard of bills that fluctuated from $120 to over $200 with no explanation and telephone service that cuts out, and issues with technicians. 

“When service providers have come to their home to try to rectify these things, many did not speak English well enough that the person could communicate with people about what the problem was,” Kenison said. 

Ward 10 Councilor Zandra Rice Hawkins said she had heard more positive feedback. “I’ve heard from several constituents on this and they would like us to move forward,” Rice Hawkins said.

Concord has had cable television service for three decades and is currently served only by Comcast.

Atlantic Broadband serves 34 towns in New Hampshire through a regional operations center in Rochester, N.H., that also handles Maine. It is the country’s eighth-largest cable firm with customers in 12 states and about 1,400 U.S. employees, including 224 in New Hampshire and Maine, plus contractors.

The firm advertises internet symmetrical service with speeds of 1 gigabit, or 1,000 megabits, and options up to 10 gigabits. At a hearing in September, company officials estimated the total work in Concord, including building a connection hub on Sheep Davis Road, would cost $28 million.

Under New Hampshire’s cable franchise law, Concord has no say over prices, over channel selection or about internet service. Concord does have some say over general service and reliability.

In other action, the city council also voted to pass a resolution honoring former maintenance technician Timothy W. Fontaine, who retired and passed away this year. His family was present, wearing gray t-shirts that said “Team Tim.”

Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.

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