A cable TV war may be brewing in Colorado Springs, as phone and internet provider CenturyLink seeks a franchise to begin offering television services in the city.
The Monroe, La.-based telecom company, which merged with Qwest Communications in 2011, already offers cable service in eight cities around the country, but Colorado Springs would be its first major market in Colorado. Monument has already given CenturyLink a franchise and the company is also seeking agreements with Fountain and to serve unincorporated El Paso County.
“We’re very excited about bringing cable service to Colorado Springs, but we’re also excited about bringing competition,” said Mike Burnett, vice president and general manager for CenturyLink’s southern and western Colorado operations.
Burnett argues that a major competitor to cable giant Comcast will drive down prices for everyone in the city, even though it is likely to be several years before CenturyLink could offer service throughout Colorado Springs.
Comcast spokeswoman Cindy Parsons said her company is open to new competition, as long as the city makes cable franchises a level playing field.
“We welcome competition as long as new entrants are not given a regulatory advantage and are required to serve all communities as we do today,” Parsons said.
If City Council approves a franchise for CenturyLink at its July 10 meeting, the company plans to begin offering television service early in 2013 and promises to offer service to a minimum of 22 percent of the city within three years. Burnett said rolling out cable service would require at least $20 million investment over the next three years and would also bring 30 to 50 jobs to the area.
Kenny Wyatt, CenturyLink’s president for the Mountain region, said CenturyLink’s cable service will be delivered through what’s called “Internet protocol television” technology. Wyatt said the technology means faster channel changes, features such as simultaneous recording on up to four televisions in a home and a higher quality high-definition television picture than its competitors.
“The IP platform really allows us to do a lot of things,” Wyatt said.
CenturyLink’s channel packages and bundling offers will be similar to what Comcast and other cable providers offer, Wyatt said. Customers who already have a DirecTV television bundle with CenturyLink would be able continue with that package if they wanted, he said.
City Council quizzed CenturyLink officials at Monday's informal meeting on their rollout plans, how much of the city the service would cover and the revenue the city might receive from franchise fees. Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the franchise deal June 26.