The Comcast Renewal Agreement was presented to the Town Council at their most recent meeting by Bill August, who has been working as a legal counselor in the town’s Comcast cable license renewal process. August has been working closely with both Town Manager Kevin Smith and Cable Coordinator Drew Caron while going through the lengthy negotiations process with the representatives from Comcast.
The town previously held a public hearing on the Comcast renewal back in February of 2017 after the public was given the opportunity to comment on Londonderry’s cable related needs and interests. Since that time, drafted language of the town’s wishes have been circulating to be able to meet the public’s needs. One major concern that was brought up by Vice-Chairman John Farrell was being able to have Wi-Fi on the Town Common. “In today’s day and age, this should be easy.” Farrell said. August was happy to relay the message to the representatives at Comcast and negotiate on the town’s behalf. August did, however, say that Comcast will not include language about non-cable services in the cable franchise. This would have to be a separate type of negotiation. “That does not mean we cannot follow up on that.” August said. “We don’t want to create the false expectation that they will provide language about that in the license document.” Farrell made a point again to say that Wi-Fi is needed on the Town Common. Chairman Tom Dolan stepped in to say that the town would like August to step into negotiations with Comcast on the town’s behalf to make a separate agreement saying that the town would like Comcast to provide Wi-Fi service to the community that often congregates on the Town Common. Not just for convenience, but also for safety or young kids who need to call their parents.
August also made sure to tell the council that Comcast does not want to start the precedent of putting non-cable things in cable licenses. “That’s a big new precedent.” August said. It may be, however, possible for the town to negotiate a separate agreement with Comcast about this issue. One of the very significant elements in this renewal license is that Comcast upgrade its remote origination from the Town Common and other municipal sites to a fiber system to interconnect the municipal locations to bring a cable signal back to the Londonderry Access Center. This proposed new license also includes (unlike the prior license) specifications for Comcast within 18 months to complete the construction of the new fiber system. One condition on Comcast’s part was to make this new license effective in 2018 within about two months. There are still a lot of moving parts, but the council is confident that negotiations will go well and the town will soon be headed for a public hearing.