Comcast joins Metrocast to provide Rochester with cable, internet competitionBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
December 06. 2017 10:59PM
ROCHESTER — Comcast is extending its services into Rochester, creating the first competitive cable market in New Hampshire.
On Tuesday night, the city council overwhelmingly approved a 10-year cable franchise agreement. This is expected to give Rochester residents more options for television, internet, voice, home automation and wireless services, Comcast announced Wednesday.
Currently, Metrocast is Rochester’s cable and internet provider.
“We welcome and applaud Comcast’s commitment to serve Rochester with its innovative services, and we are exceptionally pleased that Rochester will soon be able to offer another choice of television, internet and phone providers to our residents and growing list of business owners,” Rochester City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
Fitzpatrick has been working with Comcast officials for the past couple of months on the expansion, which is referred to as an overbuild. He told city councilors in November that no one cable provider has an exclusive contract with a town or city, so technically the two companies can compete in Rochester.
Some city councilors expressed concern before the vote Tuesday.
Councilor Tom Willis said he is all for competition, but adopting the franchise agreement with Comcast during the fourth quarter of the Metrocast agreement may not be favorable for the city.
“If we adopt the Comcast agreement now, I’m afraid there is no incentive for Metrocast to even want to stay here,” Willis said.
City attorney Terence O’Rourke warned that voting against the Comcast agreement based upon what Metrocast might do would violate federal law.
Councilor Peter Lachapelle said he thought there were too many unanswered questions.
“There are concerns we can’t overlook, and I think it is too early to vote on this as is,” Lachapelle said. He was the only “no” during a roll call vote.
In addition to residential and business services, the Comcast agreement returns 3 percent of franchise fees to the city of Rochester for public, educational and government local access programming.
Officials with Comcast said Wednesday they plan to begin construction for the network next year. There are multiple steps in the process, they said.
No new service center is planned for the city of Rochester yet. Currently, there is a service center located in Portsmouth for Comcast customers.
Comcast can be found in 39 states and the District of Columbia.