Thursday, November 19, 2009
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.
Posted by Columbia Talk at 8:40 AM