Comcast may get competition for city's cable TV customers

MARYSVILLE – Competition equals lower prices.

At least that is the theory and hope of city officials working with cable TV, phone and internet service provider Verizon.

"For the first time, we may have a new entity coming into our city and offering cable TV service," said Community Information Officer Doug Buell.

Buell has been acting as the point man in hammering out a new cable franchise agreement with Verizon to compete for Marysville cable customers with current service supplier Comcast.

Verizon already provides phone and DSL internet service in the area, according to Buell and Verizon spokesman Jon Davies.

Davies added his company should be in front of City Council by the end of this month with a new franchise agreement to provide cable TV in Marysville.

Even if council approves the agreement, Davies said there is no exact date set for the arrival of Verizon TV service in Marysville. However, he does expect the company to be ready to sign up customers by the end of the summer.

Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp said his company already is in competition with various internet and phone providers along with satellite TV services.

"We are no strangers to competition," he said, adding Comcast welcomes taking on Verizon directly.

"How we respond is by providing the best service at the best prices," Kipp said.

Davies said Verizon has been working on installing a fiber optic system throughout Marysville, while Buell said they have been working in surrounding cities as well.

"They are staring to work their way north, basically," Buell said.

Kipp stated Comcast already has fiber optics in place and operating in Marysville and surrounding areas. Davies claimed that unlike the Comcast system, Verizon fiber optic lines will run directly to a customer's home. Essentially, he further claimed that Comcast fiber optic lines stop at the curb.

"The overall network is only as fast as that last little piece of network," Davies added.

Davies said he isn't familiar with the details of the franchise agreement being worked out with Marysville and added that, in any case, he can't comment on agreements before they are finalized. According to Buell, the city has been working with Verizon since roughly April. Local officials are asking Verizon to provide services similar to those provided by Comcast.

Among other items, Verizon will need to provide the same city and community access channels carried by Comcast. Buell also wants and expects Verizon to be held to the same service standards the city dictated to Comcast.

Those standards address such issues as wait times for customers calling the company, dependability of in-home service calls and other similar items.

According to Buell, any new Verizon customers still would have to pay the 75 cent monthly fee that goes to support the city's so-called I-Net system, which electronically links together various city buildings.

Besides possibly lower prices, Buell said local officials hope the competition results in more channel selections as well as higher broad band speeds for customers of both companies.

"That's the beauty of competition," he said.

Buell added Comcast already is working to upgrade its fiber optic system in the area, possibly in response to the pending arrival of direct competition.

"Verizon already has raised the stakes," Buell said.

"We are constantly investing in our network," Comcast's Kipp stated.

He further doesn't believe Verizon can compete with his firm in terms of customer service. He said Comcast has local offices in Lynwood, Everett and Fife.

"When you call us, you're talking to someone in Washington," he said. "We think that's a real plus."

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