SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 25, 2013

Peabody's calling all cable providers

PEABODY — When it comes to cable providers, Peabody isn’t feeling the love. And Mayor Ted Bettencourt wants to do something about it.

The city has been served for some time by Comcast, but that relationship not only has the mayor casting an eye elsewhere, he’s not alone. Further, the dizzying changes in technology have some wondering just what would constitute competition.

In a press release, the mayor says residents have asked him “on an almost daily basis why Peabody is not home to any alternative providers of cable TV, high-speed Internet and telephone service.” He’s got a simple answer — namely that no other provider wants to come here to compete with Comcast.

“We’re a welcoming community,” argues C. Milton Burnett of the city’s Cable Commission. “We had sent a letter to Verizon. ... There is a heavily marketed product in Verizon FiOS, which serves a number of communities.”

The letter, delivered last September, flatly asked Verizon to bring its FiOS service into Peabody. But Verizon replied that the company’s expansion had paused.

“Verizon has made it very clear,” said company spokesman and former Salem Mayor Stan Usovicz, “we have a number of obligations in the communities that we currently serve to complete our build-out there.” There are no active plans to continue expansion into other cities or towns, he said.

Left out in the cold along with Peabody are communities including Salem, Beverly and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

It’s frustrating, Bettencourt indicates in his statement, because residents have seen the television commercials for products like and including FiOS, and they believe they would get a better deal if the service locates here. Moreover, the mayor said, people are accustomed to having a choice whenever they shop for anything.

The mayor’s solution is to court “niche providers,” smaller organizations providing cable alternatives. As a candidate, Burnett mentions RCN, which provides cable to Boston and has flirted with Peabody over the years.

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