WESTPORT – Another meeting led to some concerns from selectmen about the town’s lone cable provider, Spectrum Communication.
Spectrum – formerly known as Charter – has long been the town’s only cable provider, has long been the subject of selectmen meetings, with selectmen asking for competition.
Selectman R. Michael Sullivan asked at last week's selectmen meeting if the board could initiate contact with other providers to solicit business.
But, based on input from Cable Committee Chairman Carolina Africano and other selectmen, the prospect does not appear likely.
“We signed a 10-year contract a couple years ago,” Africano wrote in an email this week. “We also have issues as to cables owned by Spectrum would have to be bought out by a new provider.”
“We are an island in the SouthCoast,” Africano said, as Westport is the lone community on the SouthCoast with a different cable provider.
In most communities in the state, Xfinity provides cable services. In Rhode Island, Cox Communication is a cable provider.
Selectman Brian Valcourt said a former town official aggravated a cable official, leading to Westport being stuck with only one provider.
Sullivan retorted that “there has to be a better reason than that.”
Selectmen Chairman Steven Ouellette, a Cable Committee member, noted that at one point he tried annually to garner attention from Verizon Fios, but with no success. Reached this week, Ouellette said a Verizon Fios representative told him the town is “not in the company’s future plans.”
Ouellette said Verizon would not even express interest in providing Internet services in town.
Selectman Craig Dutra and Ouellette said that the distances between homes in the town make the financial gain for providers an unlikely prospect. In some cases, there might be a house and then a long quarter-mile distance between it and another home, according to Ouellette.
Meanwhile, Town Administrator Timothy King noted that town officials have no say in pricing or channel lineup.
Ouellette said he will touch base with the Cable Committee and get the OK to invite a Spectrum representative to a selectmen’s meeting.
Despite these concerns, wirefly.com in a recent comparison gave the edge to Spectrum over Xfinity for pricing and programming but gave a much higher mark to Xfinity for its Internet speeds. The study is based on nationwide data, however, and is not based on rates and other factors in Massachusetts.
On that note, Ouellette said television prices are on the rise for all providers and in other nearby locales; but, the rise in Westport is frustrating because the former Charter Communications office on Gifford Road closed down last September. Yet, despite this lost amenity, prices are still on the rise, Ouellette added.
In other electronic news, King told selectmen about his work with the Energy Committee to replace street lights with more efficient and affordable LED lights. The committee and King are seeking grant funding for the project.