NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF April 11, 2007

 

Members Present: James Bowe, Chairman; Barbara Jankowski, Member; James Manahan, Member; Harry Stevens, Member and Jerry Schenkman, Liaison Representing Newtown Township; Patrick Foster, Vice Chairman/Treasurer and Don Smith, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not present was Robert Hafner, Member Representing Newtown Township.

Also present were Brian Jeter representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. and Jeff Jim representing Video Gold Productions, Inc.

No representative from Verizon attended the meeting.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman James Bowe called the meeting to order at 7:34 P.M.

MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 7, 2007:

James Manahan moved to approve the minutes of February 7, 2007. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously with one member abstaining (4-0).

Jerry Schenkman arrived after the approval of the minutes.

MINUTES OF MARCH 7, 2007:

James Manahan moved to approve the minutes of March 7, 2007. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously with one member abstaining (4-0).

Jerry Schenkman arrived after the approval of the minutes.

COMCAST UPDATE:

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that he was unable to attend the March meeting due to the birth of his fourth child. The Committee members congratulated him with regards to the birth of his child.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the release of the FCC Order. He advised on organizations opposing the FCC Order. He also discussed the FCC’s next step.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to franchising in Pennsylvania, he advised that there is no Bill being proposed at this time.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members on a new issue – Network Neutrality, which means regulation of the Internet. He advised that a Bill is being proposed in Pennsylvania. He updated the Committee members with regards to how search engines work.

James Bowe questioned how Network Neutrality effects the consumer with regards to the quality of service. Brian Jeter advised on how Network Neutrality effects the consumer with regards to the quality of service.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are working together with regards to the matter of Network Neutrality.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members on Comcast’s success with regards to triple play customers.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to Comcast and the effects of competition.

Don Smith questioned the Government C hannel. Brian advised the Committee members with regards to negotiations between Comcast and Verizon. He commented that Comcast has advised Verizon to draw their own wires to the Municipal Buildings. He advised that Comcast will not interconnect.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that the digital transition is starting to heat up. He discussed analog channels and the offer being made by the Federal Government. He advised that Comcast is ready to go all digital and that the television industry must get prepared.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that Comcast has purchased Fandango and is now in the movie ticket sales business.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the Township’s Franchise Agreement renewal. He advised on discussions with Dan Cohen.

Don Smith questioned Brian Jeter’s role with regards to the renewal of the Franchise Agreement. Brian Jeter advised that he would help to negotiate the Agreement.

James Bowe questioned how Comcast is doing with the Borough’s Government Channel. Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to Comcast’s progress with the Borough’s Government Channel, he explained the delays and advised that Comcast should be ready to begin testing.

Don Smith questioned what channel the Borough’s Government Channel would air on. Brian Jeter advised that the Borough and the Township’s Government Channel is Channel 22.

The Committee members expressed an interest in the Township being able to watch the Borough’s Government Channel and the Borough being able to watch the Township’s Government Channel. Brian Jeter advised on discussions he has had with other Comcast representatives regarding the matter.

Harry Stevens commented with regards to the ability to purchase cable boxes rather than renting the cable boxes. Brian Jeter advised with regards to the purchase of cable boxes, he also explained the difference between cable cards and cable boxes.

James Bowe commented on the correspondence sent to Comcast from the Township with regards to the connection out to the Township’s light synchronization system along the Newtown Bypass. He advised that Ron Weaver is requesting a high-speed connection, which would allow him to maintain the system remotely. He explained how the system currently works. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast would need to have the ability to access the modem if there is a problem.

NEW BUSINESS:

Video Gold/Jeff Jim Presentation

James Bowe introduced Jeff Jim to the Committee members and advised that the product he would be discussing tonight is similar to the product being offered to the Township by TelVue.

Jeff Jim made a power point presentation to the Committee members with regards to upgrading the Township’s existing Scala System. He provided documentation for the members to review. He advised that the product he is offering could be used with the Township’s existing Scala System. He advised on the types of items/information that could be posted. He advised that Northampton Township is currently using the product. He advised that he feels the product he is offering makes the best sense for the Township and explained why. He advised that the cost to upgrade the Township’s current Scala System is a one-time fee of $925.00 and that the yearly subscription fee for the service is $925.00.

Don Smith advised that the Borough is going with the product being discussed tonight by Video Gold.

Jeff Jim advised on the ability to input video into the message area.

The Committee members discussed the ability to access the system remotely. Jeff Jim advised that the system could be accessed remotely.

Jerry Schenkman questioned how to start the process to upgrade the Township’s existing Scala System. Jeff Jim advised that he could get the process started once the fees are paid.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of viewing local sports information and the definition of local sports.

The Committee members thanked Jeff Jim for his time.

The Committee members discussed making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to upgrade the Township’s current Scala System.

The Committee members discussed the pros and cons of this product verses the service being offered by TelVue.

Patrick Foster made a motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they upgrade the Township’s existing Scala System. The motion was seconded by James Manahan and passed unanimously (5-0).

OLD BUSINESS:

CGI Communications, Inc.

James Bowe advised the Committee members on the response received from CGI Communications, Inc. He provided the members with a copy of the correspondence received from CGI Communications, Inc.

The Committee members discussed the correspondence received from CGI Communications, Inc. with regards to sponsors and the renewal term.

The Committee members discussed how to eliminate certain sponsor s , when they are not sure whom CGI Communications, Inc. will solicit.

Don Smith suggested that the Township request CGI’s target list with regards to possible sponsors. The Committee members agreed that was a good idea.

The Committee members discussed the businesses being targeted for sponsors being located in the Borough and the Township.

The Committee members discussed discrimination against certain businesses.

The Committee members discussed not only having paid sponsors but also non-profit sponsors.

Candidate Debates

James Bowe advised the Committee members that he is still waiting to hear from the Council Rock North representative with regards to the candidate debates.

TelVue

The Committee members discussed the service TelVue is offering to the Township.

The Committee members agreed that if the Board of Supervisors agree to upgrade the Township’s existing Scala System, that the Committee would make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to terminate discussions with TelVue.

Verizon Discussion:

The Committee members discussed Verizon’s FiOS service.

James Manahan advised that he does have Verizon’s FiOS service.

The Committee members discussed Verizon’s installation of the FiOS Service.

The Committee members discussed Verizon effecting the local utility lines. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast lines have started to be effected again due to work being done by Verizon.

The Committee members discussed the experience/quality of the contractors that Verizon is using.

The Committee members discussed when Verizon would be offering Township channels to the community. Jerry Schenkman advised that the Township has been in touch with Verizon.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The Committee members discussed the ability from a technology standpoint to broadcast local school events.

The Committee members discussed the Township’s access to the video control booth.

The Committee members discussed volunteers having the ability to access the video control booth.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of videotaping various Township meetings.

Harry Stevens suggested having remote access to the video control booth.

Jerry Schenkman suggested having a discussion with Video Gold regarding the ability of having remote access to the video control booth.

Jerry Schenkman advised the Committee members that Ron Weaver has taken a new position with the Township and is being phased out of the Technology Department. He advised that Beth would be the new technology contact person, being supervised by John Boyle.

The Committee members discussed the wiring of the new Municipal Complex being proposed.

The Committee members discussed the servers being located in the Township building.

The Committee members discussed the capability of the Township’s servers and Internet connection.

Jerry Schenkman updated the Committee members on discussions regarding the proposed Municipal Complex expansion.

The Committee members discussed the May meeting. Several members advised that they would be unable to attend the May 2, 2007 meeting. The Committee members agreed to cancel the May meeting.

Patrick Foster moved to cancel the May 2, 2007 meeting. The motion was seconded by James Manahan and passed unanimously (5-0).

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 9:01 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for June 6, 2007. 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