Competition is good, right?
Of course it is. Competition in business is so needed that there are rules in our nation that guarantee a competitive marketplace. So it may come as a shock that when CenturyLink announced it wants to compete against Comcast – Minneapolis’ only cable provider since 1983 – the communications company was met with opposition. But those opposed to CenturyLink say they agree with competition in a free marketplace, what they don’t agree with is CenturyLink being able to cherry pick where to compete – especially if CenturyLink chooses not to service areas of lower income that tend to be minority concentrated.
“I would support cable competition,” said Pete Rhodes, who operates BMA Network, a channel dedicated to multicultural programming and distributed through Comcast. “It’s good for our consumers and minority communities as long as it provides minority business and programming opportunities and a fair and equitable distribution of services.”
In its application to the city CenturyLink has said it will launch via new and existing lines with a 15 percent minimum coverage, but at issue is the low threshold and the company’s unwillingness to say where that area of coverage will be.
“We do have maps of coverage, but we don’t want to show them in a public forum because they’re competitively sensitive and Comcast would love to have that information as well,” said CenturyLink executive, Jim Campbell during a hearing of the Minneapolis City Council Ways and Means Committee.
Ward 8 Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said the 15 percent coverage was too low of a threshold to start and called for a minimum 30 percent city coverage and a growth plan beyond that. Campbell balked at the suggestion, but said in other cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo., the coverage reached up to 60 percent within eight months in Denver and two years in Colorado Springs.
“Our track record shows we go well beyond our commitment,” said Campbell.
In other cities where CenturyLink has entered the cable market, the company has been accused of not offering initial coverage in minority and low income areas. While Campbell and other CenturyLink executives vehemently denied discrimination in offering coverage, Campbell did admit the company has a bottom line approach as to how it enters various markets.
“We look at where the price is the cheapest to offer coverage and areas with the most density,” said Campbell. “If you’re going to spend $1,000 you want to hit 1,000 homes instead of 10. As we’re successful, we’ll expand.”
“My key concern is the community I serve and the equitable opportunity to get services,” said Rhodes. “If any new cable franchise is not mandated to cover the entire market, it places an economic disadvantage to my community.”
The council has yet to decide on CenturyLink’s application.
[See original article here: http://insightnews.com/news/13294-centurylink-may-exclude-service-to-minorities-critics-say]