OPERATORS OF MID-SIZE, SMALL AND RURAL CABLE SYSTEMS DETAIL BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT FOR FCC
- CEOs Highlight Consumer Benefits of High Speed Internet Service Deployment -


Washington, DC
-- The chief executive officers of seven multiple system operators (MSOs) that serve rural customers and other markets primarily outside of major metropolitan areas today briefed commissioners and staff from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on efforts to deliver high speed Internet service and other broadband services to rural customers throughout the country.

The visits were coordinated by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

"As a result of the vigorous competition we face in our markets, as well as customer demand, we’ve rolled out new broadband services such as high speed Internet access and digital video throughout our territories with our own private-risk capital," said Richard Sjoberg, President and CEO of Sjoberg’s Inc of northwest Minnesota, and one of the CEOs who visited the FCC today.

"My goal as a local businessman is to ensure that my customers have access to the same kinds of services as my counterparts in more populated areas," said Sjoberg, who also serves as the Chairman of the NCTA Rural/Small Operators Committee.

Sjoberg was joined in FCC visits by Peter Brubaker, President & CEO, Susquehanna Media Co.; Rocco Commisso, Chairman & CEO, Mediacom Communications Corporation; Joseph Gans, President & CEO, Gans Multimedia Partnership; James Pearson, President & CEO, US Cable Corporation; Gary Shorman, President and CEO, Eagle Communications; and Kelvin Westbrook, President & CEO, Millennium Digital Media.

"Cable operators – even those serving mid-size and rural markets – are widely delivering on the deployment of high speed Internet service and other broadband services," said Robert Sachs, President and CEO, NCTA. "We think it’s critical that the public policy community in Washington hear first-hand of those efforts."

The seven CEOs detailed to FCC officials the industry’s private risk investments to bring broadband technology and services to rural communities. For example:

  • Sjoberg’s Inc has invested more than $5 million to bring advanced broadband technologies to 8,400 customers in 33 rural towns and townships in northwest Minnesota. So far, Sjoberg Inc offers high speed Internet service to 75 percent of the 10,500 homes passed by its systems, and the remaining homes will have access by the end of this year. More Sjoberg Inc customers have opted for high speed cable modem service than digital video services.


  • Mediacom Communications Corporation, a publicly-traded company, invested $280 million in 2001 in part to bring broadband services to its 1.6 million customers, 85 percent of which are in franchises with less than 2,000 subscribers in communities in 23 states, including Georgia, Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota. At the end of 2001, 54 percent of the homes passed by Mediacom had access to broadband Internet service, with more than 112,000 customers opting for the service. Mediacom expects to increase the availability of broadband Internet service to 80 percent of its homes passed by the end of this year.


  • Susquehanna Communications serves nearly 200,000 customers, operating seven cable systems in Pennsylvania, Maine, Indiana, Illinois and Mississippi. The company fully deployed its digital cable service in September of 2000, to all the homes its passes. It now offers cable modem service to more than 73 percent of its customers, the result of a seven year, $114 million private investment.


  • US Cable Corporation has invested approximately $10 million annually the past three years to launch broadband services in states such as Minnesota and New Mexico. More than 35,000 of its 152,000 customers had access to broadband services by the end of 2001.


  • Midcontinent Communications, the largest operator in North and South Dakota, in the last two years has directed more than $8 million of its $23 million investment in infrastructure development to deploy and market high speed Internet and cable telephone services. In South Dakota, Midcontinent serves about 102,000 customers in 78 communities. Currently 40 of those communities have access to broadband Internet service, with more than 14,000 residential customers electing to subscribe to the service.


  • Millennium Digital Media currently serves 160,000 customers in Maryland, Michigan, Washington and Oregon, and has invested a total of $55 million to offer broadband access to 200,000 homes.


  • Gans Multimedia Partnership serves approximately 50,000 customers in Arizona, Maryland and Pennsylvania. It’s broadband services pass 26,000 homes in St Mary’s County, MD, 5,000 homes in Chesapeake Bay, MD, 25,000 homes in Berwick, PA, and 6,000 homes in Weatherly, PA.


  • Eagle Communications has invested $1 million dollars over the past five years to bring broadband services to its 13,000 customers in six Kansas communities. More than 90% of the company’s customers have access to cable-delivered high speed Internet service.


  • "Operators that serve small and rural communities will continue deployment of broadband services, buoyed by a stable regulatory environment, consumer demand, and a strong commitment to the communities we serve, and in which we live," Sjoberg said. "We’re meeting the challenges of the digital divide and risking capital because all Americans – rural as well as urban – deserve and desire broadband services."

    NCTA

    NCTA is the principal trade association of the cable television industry in the United States. NCTA represents cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation's cable television households and more than 200 cable program networks, as well as equipment and technology suppliers to the cable industry.

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