Meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Alna Board of Selectmen agreed to finalize a franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable that has been in negotiations for the past five months.
While the town was able to raise the franchise fees it will receive from Time Warner Cable to 5 percent, the maximum allowable amount, the town was unsuccessful in reducing the density requirements that would force the company to provide service to currently unserved areas of town.
“This is the best we’re going to be able to do,” Third Selectman Doug Baston said.
In September, Alna hired Michael Edgecomb, a former Time Warner Cable employee and current business development manager for James W. Sewall Co., as a consultant to help the town renegotiate its franchise agreement.
While franchise fees were increased through the negotiation process, Alna hoped to reduce the density requirements for the installation of new cable lines from 20 homes per mile to 15 homes per mile. The reduction would have ensured cable access in the village of Head Tide.
Time Warner Cable would not budge on the density requirements, Baston said.
Residents in Dresden and Whitefield have recently approached their respective town officials with questions about their towns’ franchise agreements and the density requirements that are preventing them from receiving cable service, Dresden and Whitefield town officials said.
The Whitefield Board of Selectmen delayed signing the renewal of its franchise agreement to see how Alna’s negotiations with Time Warner Cable progressed, Whitefield selectmen said.
Dresden is locked into its franchise agreement for another two years, Administrative Assistant Trudy Foss said.
While the town was unsuccessful in extending cable service through the franchise agreement, Alna is eligible for a ConnectME grant to increase broadband access in town, Alna selectmen said. The ConnectME grant requires a local contribution; however, selectmen said they intend to apply the franchise fees collected through the cable contract to offset the cost of the local contribution.