NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

NEWTOWN BOROUGH FIRE HALL

14 LIBERTY STREET

NEWTOWN, PA

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2005


MINUTES OF DECEMBER 7, 2005: James Bowe moved to approve the minutes of December 7, 2005.  The motion was seconded by Barbara Jankowski and passed unanimously with two members abstaining.


Members Present: James Manahan, Chairman; Barbara Jankowski, Member; Walt Iwaskiw, Member; James Bowe, Member and Scott Harp, Liaison Representing Newtown Township; Patrick Foster, Vice-Chairman and Don Smith, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not in attendance was Steve Erwin, Member Representing Newtown Township.

Also present were Brian Jeter, Director of Government & Community Relations representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. and Joe Ugras, former member of the Newtown Area Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman James Manahan called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 2, 2005:

James Bowe moved to approve the minutes of November 2, 2005. The motion was seconded by Walt Iwaskiw and passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:

James Manahan updated the Committee members with regards to the complaint received from the residents at 192 Commonwealth Drive regarding work done by Verizon. The members discussed their disappointment in the way that Verizon is handling the situation. Scott Harp advised the members that he has been in contact with Verizon and the homeowner.

OLD BUSINESS:

The Committee members discussed Verizon’s progress within the community. Walt Iwaskiw advised the members on discussions he has had with Verizon and the Township regarding damage to his property. The Committee discussed Verizon’s liability with regards to damaged property. Don Smith commented with regards to the Borough having Verizon post a bond. Scott Harp commented with regards to Verizon’s work in other locations. The Committee discussed the need for Verizon to be compliant. The Committee members discussed Verizon applying for Township permits. The members discussed the Township fining Verizon if they are not applying for the permits. The Committee members discussed how the Township is handling Verizon. Patrick Foster advised the Committee members with regards to his dealings with Verizon and the high number of One Calls that the Water Company receives daily. The Committee members discussed possible ways to get control of the work being done by Verizon within the community. The Committee members discussed the work that Verizon will be doing within the community in the future years. Barbara Jankowski suggested that the members draft a letter to be read at the next televised Board of Supervisor meeting with regards to the concerns of the Committee. The Committee discussed the revenue from the permits Verizon is applying for. The members discussed Verizon working without the supervision of a Township inspector. Scott Harp advised the members that he would contact Bob Pellegrino to discuss Verizon. James Manahan agreed that he would also contact Bob Pellegrino to discuss Verizon and email the members with regards to his discussion. Walt Iwaskiw suggested that the Committee meet with the Board of Supervisors at a Work Session or in Executive Session to discuss Verizon.

The Committee members discussed the current status with regards to the Verizon Franchise Agreement and the email received from John Boyle dated December 6, 2005.

The Committee members discussed the status of Verizon with regards to State Franchising. James Bowe commented with regards to promises made by Gov. Rendell. Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to the status of State Franchising in Texas and with regards to Verizon’s status in Florida. He also commented with regards to the status of Verizon in New Jersey. The members discussed Verizon pushing for State or Federal Franchising. Brian Jeter expressed the need for the local Municipalities to contact State Representatives to advise on their opinions with regards to State and Federal Franchising.

COMCAST UPDATE:

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to the damage that Comcast has incurred due to the construction being done by Verizon and PECO.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the operational perspective of Comcast’s pay migration project, which occurred in November 2005.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to the number of calls received by the Comcast Call Center.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that 50% of Comcast’s customers have digital service and that 50% of the customers have multiple Comcast services.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the county wide Channel Line-up, which is scheduled to happen in April 2006. He advised that Bucks County’s Channel Line-up will decrease from thirteen (13) Channel Line-ups to three (3) Channel Line-ups.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that the community’s Government Access Channel will move from Channel 23 to Channel 22 and that the Community Access Channel will move from Channel 66 to Channel 78.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to Verizon franchising at a Federal level.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to Ala Cart programming. He provided the Committee members with an article from the Wall Street Journal regarding Ala Cart programming. The Committee members discussed Ala Cart programming.

James Bowe questioned the number of customers Comcast has in the Newtown Commons. Brian Jeter advised that he would look into and updated the Committee.

Joe Ugras advised that LaSalle University does not have a Comcast cable connection, which is required by the Franchise Agreement. Brian Jeter advised that he would look into the matter. The Committee suggested that he also contact Holy Family and Bucks County Community Colleges to verify whether or not they have a Comcast cable connection.

James Manahan commented with regards to Comcast’s 6% cable increase. Brian Jeter advised on the Comcast rate increase.

Don Smith commented with regards to correspondence received from a Consumer Service Advocate. Brian Jeter advised that he was unaware of such correspondence.

Walt Iwaskiw commented with regards to an article about Comcast considering offering Ala Cart programming. Brian Jeter advised that he was unaware of such an article.

Scott Harp commented with regards to content for the Township’s Educational Channels. He also discussed the community receiving programming from LaSalle’s main campus. Joe Ugras advised that LaSalle is interested in providing the community with educational content for the Township’s Educational Channels. Brian Jeter advised that he would look into the matter. Scott Harp suggested that the Committee members schedule a meeting with LaSalle University, Holy Family College and Bucks County Community College to discuss their interest in providing content for the Township’s Educational Channels.

The Committee members discussed the relationship between Comcast and the local Universities/Colleges.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The Committee members discussed the work being done by PECO within the community.

The Committee members discussed cable competition.

Joe Ugras advised the Committee members with regards to an article in the December 5, 2005 edition of Business Week where Verizon is battling Cablevision over competition.

The Committee members discussed the number of complaints that the Committee is receiving with regards to Comcast, Verizon or PECO.

Joe Ugras commented with regards to cable competition within the community. He also discussed the current construction problems with Verizon and the past construction problems with Comcast. He invited the Committee to hold a meeting at LaSalle University. He commented with regards to Newtown Borough and Newtown Township being on the leading edge of technology and discussed the changes in technology. He also commented with regards to the past goals of the Committee and thanked Scott Harp for his contributions to the Committee.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.

Once the meeting adjourned the Committee members met in Executive Session.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 2006. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the Newtown Borough Fire Station located at 14 Liberty Street, Newtown.

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

______________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary