Utility broadband secures franchise with town | SierraSun.com

Utility broadband secures franchise with town

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District staff just checked another item off its to-do list of requirements that must be completed to get into the broadband business.

On April 17, the Truckee Town Council unanimously passed the district’s franchise agreement for video services. The district’s agreement is the second standing cable system franchise agreement in town council, along with a contract with USA Media.

“It was comparable to the USA Media franchise agreement,” said town manager Stephen L. Wright. “[The district] tried to maintain a level playing field with [USA Media].”

In fact, telecommunications division director Alan Harry said the franchise agreements are “virtually identical.” Among other similarities, both contracts agree to a one-time $60,000 grant to the town for public educational and governmental cable access (PEG) and a 40-cent-per-subscriber-per-month grant paid quarterly to the town.

If the broadband plan is passed by Local Agency Formation Commission of Nevada County (LAFCo), those who opt for the district’s cable services will have two additional PEG channels, including a public access channel for use by the general community.

“In a town like Truckee that is so community oriented, it’s important to have this kind of public access,” Harry said.

The two new PEG channels should be up and running around April 30, 2008, when all video services are made available to the public within the district’s service area, according to the franchise.

“When it comes time to compete with [USA Media] in video services, we’ll provide a competitive service,” Harry said. “In the sense of providing community programming, we thought it would be great to provide what they have and more.”

Telecommunications division staff plans to begin offering some services by the end of this summer, Harry said.

According to the requirements set forth by LAFCo, the district must find an experienced and reliable underwriter “in order to protect current water and electric service ratepayers from exposure to additional coasts associated with the new service,” draft a master services element and enter a franchise agreement.

Harry said underwriter financing should be secured in about two months and he’ll know more about the voice, video and date provider in the coming month.

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