A Quincy-based company is expected to receive approval to host internet, television and language competitions in Haverhill within the next few months.
Breezeline, formerly known as Atlantic Broadband, is the eighth largest cable operator in the country. It plans to spend $28 million to wire the city, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. The company, better known locally by the names of the properties acquired by MetroCast and Charter Communications, already has operations across the border in New Hampshire. It is the first challenger to Comcast’s historic dominance in Haverhill. Fiorentini called the company’s entry “years of formation”.
“From the earliest days of our inauguration, we have actively sought a second cable company in Haverhill to provide competition and options for our residents and businesses,” Fiorentini said in a prepared statement.
The city is negotiating a 10-year deal with Breezeline, similar to the one it has approved with Comcast. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31 at 4:00 p.m. in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill Town Hall. City councilors are also expected to hear a presentation from the company in September.
Fiorentini said Breezeline intends to offer more than 300 channels and products “similar to those that residents are currently receiving”. Breezeline’s proposal is unrelated to discussions with SiFi Networks about building a fiber optic network available to a variety of providers.
A Federal Communications Commission study suggests that where there is competition, prices are lower. A summary of CIO magazine reports: “Cable television prices have risen less in areas where there is ‘effective’ competition between two or more providers. According to the report, where there is effective competition, prices are 6.4% lower, a “statistically significant” difference.
A 2016 Temkin Group Research survey of 10,000 customers found, “The poster child for poor customer experience in these industries – Comcast – was not only the lowest-rated television and internet service provider, but also one of the lowest-rated companies in whole ratings of the industry. It ranked 289th overall out of 294 companies for its TV service and 284th for its Internet service.”
Fiorentini says Breezeline must provide public-access television support similar to Comcast, and his proposal includes financial and in-kind donations, as well as commitments to environmental and social goals and stewardship.
The company said it changed its name from Atlantic Broadband last January “to more accurately describe its expanded geographic reach.”