NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF APRIL 2, 2008

 

Members Present: Harry Stevens, Chairman; Barbara Jankowski, Member; Robert Hafner, Member; and Jerry Schenkman, Liaison Representing Newtown Township; Patrick Foster, Vice Chairman/Treasure; John Leonard, Member; and Gerard O’Malley, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not present was James Manahan, Member Representing Newtown Township.

Also present were Stephanie Beavers and John Strasser representing Verizon.

No representative from Comcast attended the meeting.

CALL TO ORDER:

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

INTRODUCTION OF NEWEST MEMBER – JOHN LEONARD

The Committee members welcomed the newly appointed Borough member John Leonard to the Committee.

MINUTES OF MARCH 5, 2008:

John Leonard advised on three changes. The first change is on page 2, the second paragraph, the first sentence should read – James Manahan questioned if there is any company strategy to provide Internet Video content (example: Video On-Demand offered for computers). The second change is on page 3, the eighth paragraph, the first sentence should read – James Manahan made a motion for the Committee to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they adopt the proposed Comcast Franchise Agreement. The third change is on page 3, the ninth paragraph, the first sentence should read – James Manahan made a motion for the Committee to recommend to the Borough Council that the adopt the proposed Comcast Franchise Agreement.

Harry Stevens made a motion to approve the minutes of March 5, 2008. The motion was seconded by Barbara Jankowski and passed unanimously with two members abstaining (3-0-2).

VERIZON REPORT:

Stephanie Beavers introduced John Strasser and advised that he would be assisting her.

Stephanie Beavers updated the members with regards to Verizon’s digital conversion. She advised on Verizon’s intent to convert customers from analog to all digital and that the conversion’s target date is June 23, 2008. She reported on successful conversions and the correspondence that will be sent to pre January 10, 2008 subscribers advising them to contact Verizon. She reported on the complementary set top box that will be provided to qualifying customers and advised that there will never be a charge for the complementary set top box.

Jerry Schenkman questioned Verizon’s response for customers who would require more than one set top box. Stephanie Beavers advised that Verizon would work with customers who may require more than one set top box.

The members discussed the rate for the lowest tier of service. Stephanie Beavers advised that the rate is approximately $12.99 for the local tier of programming.

The members discussed the complementary box only going to pre January 10, 2008 customers who have the lowest tier of service.

Jerry Schenkman questioned the provider for the set top box. Stephanie Beavers reported on what information she had with regards to a provider for the set top box.

The members discussed the set top box and television being in sync with each other.

Harry Stevens commented on the digital conversion boxes available funded by the government. Stephanie Beavers advised that those boxes would not be compatible with Verizon.

The members discussed proposed legislation that would allow cable customers to buy their own equipment. Stephanie Beavers advised that the proposed legislation may apply to cable companies but she is not sure if it would apply to Verizon.

The members discussed the February, 2009 FCC requirement with regards to the digital conversion. Stephanie Beavers advised that Verizon customers would not be affected.

The members discussed Verizon’s signal with regards to analog and digital.

Harry Stevens reported on service issues he has experienced.

The members discussed Verizon and Comcast with regards to congestion and interconnections.

The members discussed interruptions to their Verizon FiOS television service due to storms.

The members thanked the Verizon representatives for their time.

Harry Stevens questioned if Verizon has run fiber to the Borough Firehouse. Patrick Foster advised that as of now, Verizon has not run fiber to the Borough Firehouse.

The members discussed the Verizon PEG channels.

COMCAST REPORT:

Harry Stevens reported on the recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the adoption of the Comcast Franchise Agreement. The Township adopted the agreement.

Gerard O’Malley reported with regards to Borough Council adopting the Comcast Franchise Agreement at the April 8, 2008 meeting. Harry Stevens advised that he would attend the meeting to make a recommendation for adopting the agreement.

Patrick Foster reported on a problem with Comcast Borough Channels 23 and 28; he advised that on Channel 23 there is was no sound and on Channel 28 the sound is low. The members discussed reporting the problem to Borough Council and Comcast.

OLD BUSINESS:

The members discussed the Borough televising Council meetings. Gerard O’Malley updated the members and advised that CRSD is allowing the Borough use of their equipment. He advised that the matter is scheduled to be discussed at the April 8, 2008 Council meeting.

The members discussed how the Township feed gets on the Borough’s Channel 23.

The members discussed a contact for Video Gold being Jeff Jim.

The members discussed the prior proposal from Video Gold with regards to upgrading the Township’s existing Scala System. Gerard O’Malley reported that the Borough did purchase the system from Video Gold.

NEW BUSINESS:

Discuss possibly changing the meeting night

 The members discussed changing the meeting night and agreed not to change the meeting night.

Discuss open position on the Committee for a representative from the Township

The members discussed the open position on the Committee for a representative from the Township. Jerry Schenkman suggested mentioning the opening in the next report to the Board of Supervisors. Barbara Jankowski suggested contacting Mayur Shah, to see if he still has an interest in the Committee. Harry Stevens advised that he would contact Mayur Shah.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The members discussed the Township’s Technology Committee. Harry Stevens reported that the Committee is scheduled to meet on April 29, 2008 at 7:30 P.M. at the Township’s Municipal building’s meeting room.

The members discussed the intent of the Franchise Fees received from Comcast and Verizon.

Patrick Foster advised that the Borough Fire Station would be having renovations to the meeting room. He has arranged for the Committee to meet at the Fire Station in the Newtown Municipal Complex until the renovations are complete.

Robert Hafner commented on a newspaper article with regards to Northampton Township having a problem viewing the Council Rock School Board meetings. Patrick Foster advised that he thinks it was a Verizon issue.

The members discussed the invitation to the upcoming Cable/Telecommunication Advisory Board of Bucks County’s conference on April 19, 2008 at the Bensalem Municipal Building.

John Leonard questioned if the Committee should have an interest in the schematic overview of some of the interconnections between the Township and the Borough with regards to the routing and switching. He suggested that the Committee have a list of the Borough and Township’s equipment and to know how the information gets from here to there. The members discussed Video Gold’s involvement. Jerry Schenkman suggested requesting Comcast and Verizon to make a presentation to the Committee.

Harry Stevens reported on Stephanie Beavers’ invitation to tour the Verizon HUB.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 9:23 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 7, 2008. The meeting will begin at 7:30 P.M., in the Newtown Fire Station located at Newtown Municipal Complex.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Christy Holley, Recording Secretary