The Gettysburg Borough Council is close to signing a new 10-year agreement with Comcast Cable Communications, LLC which sells cable and internet services under the name Xfinity.
Adams County, which Gettysburg resides in, has 90% broadband access (86% in rural areas) according to the FCC Mapping Broadband Health 2017 map. (FCC, 2017), ranking it at the upper end of access in the non-metropolitan areas of the state.
Gettysburg's old deal had expired in February. This new deal with charge the town fee of 5% of Comcast's gross revenue, which will materialize as a new fee on customer's bills.
Under this new agreement, Comcast has agreed to give credit to any customer experiencing a disruption longer than 6 hours.
The article states "Comcast agreed to provide a Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) access channel to be used for educational and governmental activities and will continue provide service to governmental buildings" but does not elaborate on what exactly this channel will do. This is my first time of hearing about such a channel.
Lastly, the article states that Comcast plans to give a one-time $10,500 grant which the borough will give to Community Media of South Central PA, a nonprofit dedicated to informing, celebrating, and entertaining the people of Adams, Yorks, and the surrounding counties.
This deal did not preclude the borough from signing contracts with other providers.
Board member John Lawyer criticized aspects of the agreement, such as the fact that there is no Comcast office in Gettysburg, with the closest one being in Shippensburg, a 49-minute drive that is inaccessible via public transportation. He also expressed concern about the exposed wiring that Comcast has neglected from previous cable installations.
Board member Patti Lawson suggested that the regularly appearing Comcast trucks could provide new cable boxes to consumers.
Board member Matt Moon discussed the franchise fee is paid for by customers. “The users pay that fee. It’s not like they’re paying to be here.”
“We are dealing with what is essentially a monopoly,” Wes Heyser is quoted as saying.
I find this deal fascinating, especially when compared to the what they offered Big Valley, the town where the residents created the Rural Broadband Cooperative due to Comcast demanding $80,000 to lay 8 miles of high speed internet cables. I do not know the extent of Comcast's deal with Big Valley nor where they number came from. I wonder if that $80,000 was flat fee or based off some revenue percentage. I also wonder if Comcast offered a grant to which Big Valley could use to donate to a charity. It's possible there is some economic activity that occurs in Gettysburg that would incentivize Comcast to provide internet there that does not exist in Big Valley.
Gettysburg has a population of 7,717 and Big Valley has a slightly smaller population of 346, so that may play a factor as well.
Charles Stangor, "Gettysburg Borough Council: Human Relations Board * Comcast Agreement", contributed by Andrew Rosenthal, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 27 February 2021, accessed 26 November 2022. https://energyrights.info/content/gettysburg-borough-council-human-relations-board-comcast-agreement