Vitale: Charter Needs to Come to the Table
City Councilman Joe Vitale says Charter Communications needs to rectify service problems and make things right with Laramie customers.
“I think they need to be going out of their way right now to appease people and make some amends and regain the trust again in their system,” says Vitale.
Vitale says the Laramie City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday against renewing the 10-year franchise agreement with Charter Communications after Charter representatives said the corporate office would not agree to an annual performance review meeting.
“Right now, people are uncomfortable and don’t trust the system, and unfortunately [Charter] own[s] all the cable,” says Vitale.
Vitale says Charter’s service is lacking, but the City’s options are limited.
“For the City to either purchase that cable or to put cable in that we could then bid to service out and have the infrastructure in place where whoever gets the bid for the service could then lease the infrastructure from us… we’re not in that position,” says Vitale.
“It’s probably looking at – from what the City staff tells us – around thirty million dollars to do that,” says Vitale.
“In defense of [Charter]… the franchise agreement really doesn’t address performance or quality-of-service issues,” says Vitale. “But since the easement is important to them, and quality of service to citizens are important to us, that’s about the only bargaining chip we’ve had to deny or vote down the franchise agreement at this point.”
The franchise agreement continues on a month-to-month basis, and the City continues to take a 5% franchise fee. Assistant City Manager David Derragon says the fee pays for maintenance of the infrastructure that Charter uses to provide service to Laramie customers.
“Since this company has taken over, the service is just – almost zero,” says Vitale. “People just aren’t getting what they’re paying for and it doesn’t seem to be a concerted effort to expedite doing whatever they have to do to put this stuff in order.”
A Charter spokesman says the company is not commenting at this time, but representatives will continue to meet with City officials.