Thursday, November 19, 2009

Those Unburied TV Cables

The HoCo Council is considering whether to crack down on Comcast and Verizon for leaving cable and fiber optic lines out in the open, unburied for long periods of time.

Lori Sherwood, HoCo's cable administrator, said the county has received 75 complaints about unburied lines since the beginning of the year, more complaints than it has received for any other issue. There apparently have been reports that it has taken more than a year in some cases to deal with the lines. The Hickory Ridge Village Association, for instance, testified in favor of the bill, citing lines strung in trees and shrubs and run over streets.

"Despite the best efforts of Cable Administration to resolve these complaints, at times it takes 2-4
weeks to 2-4 months to resolve an unburied drop complaint," Sherwood said in her prepared testimony, which includes pics.

The proposed legislation would require temporary lines to be buried within 15 days. The company would have to notify the homeowners affected and the lines could not be "strung through trees, on top of equipment or shrubbery, across doors, and over structures."

The legislation would also allow companies to seek a 15-day extension after notifying the affected homeowners

We've personally had problems with Verizon -- it once took several weeks to get a line buried, even after we complained that neighborhood kids were using it to play tug of war. After many, many calls, the line was eventually removed. (As the picture above attests, a new temporary line has recently appeared in our backyards -- four days and counting).

Verizon, as it happens, claims the legislation would not apply to it because of the way the county crafted its franchise agreement. This, even as Tara Potter, Verizon Maryland's assistant vice president for external affairs, told the council Monday that unburied lines "could, if ignored, create a safety hazard."

Potter said the company is studying what it can do on its own. She said the new legislation is like putting a "cast on the arm when a Band-Aid would work."

The Ulman administration contends Verizon's legal interpretation is incorrect.

Comcast also opposes the legislation. It says the changes could create "unforeseen complications," possibly leaving people without service for long periods of time if construction to bury the lines can't be done in a timely manner, because of weather or because Miss Utility has not yet marked the site.

A representative said the company "dropped" 3,362 lines in 2008 and 2,910 so far this year -- the implication being that 75 complaints ain't that many.


David said...

I can tell you from long experience that Comcast could not care less about unburied cables.

We had one in the common space in the 7300 block of Broken Staff for the entire 17 years I lived there. I asked them to finish their work every time I would see a local tech hooking someone up in the neighborhood. I am sure I asked at least a dozen time.

If you have one of these cables, there is an easy fix. Just cut it. That will generate an outage and Comcast will actually get off their a$$ and do something. If they don't bury the cable when the3y repair it, cut it again the next week.

Eventually, they will get off of their lazy, not-caring butts and bury the cable like they should have done in the first place.

Comcast survived (to the extent that it did) for so many years because they had zero competition. Now, Fios is here and things are different.

In that very same neighborhood, people changed to Fios en masse and have never been happier. And no, I am not associated with Verizon, either.

Comcast is a great example of what happened to a company over the long term when you biz model is built on a monopoly and you do not have to care.

David Hobby
Formerly of 7353 Broken Staff

Dinosaur Mom said...

Agreed that Comcast doesn't care and that FIOS is more reliable (for internet, anyway). But Verizon also cuts Comcast's lines when it installs new service ... in any event, anything that requires them to behave can't be bad.

Kelsi said...

Last winter we needed a new line and Verizon told us it might take months to bury it because the ground was frozen. The cable was strung through the trees. Luckily it only took a few weeks, but the thought that they could have taken months was unsettling. Don't get me started (on my husband) on the poor job they did on burying the cable and the short cuts they took.