Wisconsin-Based Cable Company Seeks To Compete With Spectrum In Missoula | Local News

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Missoula City Council will hold a public hearing Monday regarding the request of a cable company to spend $ 46 million on a fiber optic network to build a franchise in Missoula.

The company, TDS Metrocom, wants to compete directly with the cable company here, Spectrum.

“Historically, we have never had a direct competing cable company under federal communications law,” city attorney Jim Nugent said at a board committee meeting on Oct. 20. “This will be the first time you have direct competition with cable companies.”

About 30 years ago there were three cable companies in Missoula, Nugent said. They were encouraged to compete with each other, but they never did and instead served their own geographic areas of Missoula.

Now it’s just Spectrum, which was previously called Charter Communications.

Anytime a cable company uses public right-of-way, like alleys, to build infrastructure, the city can take up to 5% of its revenue. This money is used to pay for public access television, which is called Missoula Community Access Television in Missoula.

Other businesses in Missoula provide Internet, television and telephone services, but not using physical lines within the public right of way.

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TDS Metrocom is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, and provides high-speed Internet, television and phone services to nearly 900 rural, suburban and metropolitan communities nationwide, Nugent said. The company has built a franchise in Spokane and recently began building a network in Billings. Now they want to build a fiber optic network in Missoula.

They are expected to use the public right-of-way to provide lines to residential homes and businesses, but once on the property, the signal will be transmitted wirelessly to set-top boxes. The company believes it would take between 2 and 5 years to build the infrastructure at a cost of around $ 46 million, depending on the amount of underground rock encountered during digging, Nugent said.

The city hired a consultant to review TDS Metrocom’s qualifications, including financial statements and past performance. The consultant found that TDS had demonstrated that it had sufficient funds to finance, operate and expand its business in the past.

“Based on the strength of the information provided by Telephone and Data Systems Inc. and the review standards established under applicable law, we see no basis on which the City can deny TDS’s request due to a lack of financial qualifications, “said the consultant. firm, Moss & Barnett, wrote in a report to the city.

City officials have met with the company to make sure they understand the local ordinances, Nugent said. The main concern is that they do not damage the roots of trees in boulevards and alleys.

The public hearing is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. in the city council chamber.

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