Aug. 28—HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini said he has found a competitor to Comcast, the city's biggest cable TV and internet provider, and that he expects to finalize a licensing agreement following a public hearing on Aug. 31.
The public is invited to attend the hearing — which takes place at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall — and comment on the pending agreement with Breezeline, a new major cable TV and internet provider.
If the contract between the city and Breezeline is approved, it could take as long as a year for the company to install the infrastructure needed to service Haverhill customers, according to the mayor's office. Pricing is still to be announced.
The announcement is years in the making, Fiorentini said, and that it delivers on his promise to address residents' pleas for secondary competition by providing alternative options in the local market.
Breezeline, a subsidiary of Cogeco company, is the eighth largest cable operator in the United States and has proposed spending $28 million to build, maintain and make available its fiber-broadband service to Haverhill households, businesses, schools and other municipal entities, according to the mayor's office.
Breezeline will be providing over 300 channels and products similar to what residents are currently receiving from the city's existing cable/internet provider, according to Breezeline's Haverhill presentation.
"Since the earliest days of taking office, we have been actively searching for a second cable company in Haverhill to provide competition and options for our residents and businesses," Fiorentini said. "I am pleased to report that we have finally found one."
The city in 2020 signed a new, 10-year non-exclusive contract with Comcast that includes funding for Haverhill' local access community television operation. Under federal law, Haverhill's agreement with Breezeline must have similar terms and must not give either company a competitive advantage, the mayor said.
The current Comcast contract allows other companies to service Haverhill, and the mayor said he has been actively soliciting and talking with other cable companies in response to pleas from residents for more options. Haverhill's large geographical size and other challenges have stymied the city's efforts to recruit a second major cable provider — until now, the mayor said.
Breezeline — formerly known as Atlantic Broadband — is a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications, and has annual U.S. revenues of $750 million, according to its Haverhill proposal. Established in 1957, the company provides internet, TV, streaming TV, voice and enterprise services to businesses and residential customers in the U.S. and Canada. Breezeline's U.S. headquarters is in Quincy.
The company's fiber-broadband network passes through more than 1.6 million homes and businesses in 12 states. Utilizing a service called "Fiber-to-the-Premises." The advanced technology is designed to serve not only residences, but also schools, libraries, hospitals, retailers, and other businesses, according to the company's proposal
Breezeline's $28 million Haverhill investment is coming from its own operating capital, without any loans or outside financial institutions, according to its proposal. The proposal includes community support through financial and in-kind donations as well as commitments to environmental and social goals and responsibility.
Company officials will speak in greater detail about their technology and products at the required Aug. 31 public hearing.
The company's local presentation and public hearing notice is posted on the city's website. www.cityofhaverhill.com.
Fiorentini along with Breezeline officials and the city's cable lawyer and cable advisory committee will make a formal presentation to City Council in September.
For more information about the company and its services, visit www.breezeline.com.