According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, CenturyLink is looking at providing cable services…
Minneapolis residents could soon have another option for cable TV service, as CenturyLink looks to dislodge Comcast’s monopoly on the market.
CenturyLink plans to seek a new franchise agreement that would allow it to provide its Prism TV cable service alongside Comcast’s offerings. The digital cable service is distributed through a fiber-optic network and allows customers to watch live programming on smartphones and tablets, in addition to their televisions.
Such an agreement would require the approval of the Minneapolis City Council, which won’t take up the issue until the new year. CenturyLink’s move could dramatically reshuffle the local television market, as cable companies nationally are under intensifying competition from other providers and Internet streaming services, such as Netflix.
One hiccup is that CenturyLink is looking to start in just a few neighborhoods and Comcast (the cable incumbent) has issues with Minneapolis allowing that to happen…
CenturyLink does not plan to immediately offer service to all Minneapolis residents. Instead, it would offer Prism TV to a variety of neighborhoods where its network is already in place and later bring it to other parts of the city.
Comcast said in a statement it expects competitors to adhere to the same standards it does.
Minneapolis, however, seems open to the idea of competition. In fact they are opening the door to other applications (Are they hoping Google Fiber applies?)…
Council Member John Quincy, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — which will have to sign off on CenturyLink’s plan — said state law requires franchise holders to build out their systems over the entire franchise area. Franchise holders then pay the city a fixed percentage of their revenue.
In response to interest in a new franchise, the city has issued a formal notice of intent to accept applications. Now, CenturyLink and any other companies that want a shot at the business have a window of time to file their plans, along with a $40,000 application fee.
Quincy said Comcast has been the sole cable operator for years in part because companies must be able to prove they could serve the entire city.
“The bar’s pretty high,” he said. “If you’re going to be serious about doing it, you’re going to have to demonstrate a lot of capacity and capital to do the build-out.”
It will be interesting to see what happens. The comments show a great interest in what happens too – most are very positive about the opportunity for competition.