Opelika citizens voice cable concerns

By Chris Vessell -  bio | email | Twitter

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The City of Opelika could soon be in the cable business. After numerous complaints from dissatisfied Charter Communications customers, the Mayor opened the topic up to the public. He has also proposed a potential solution.

Citizens packed Opelika City Hall Tuesday night to voice their cable concerns. "I want to see it opened up where competition can come in, and affect the quality of what we get and the prices," Paul Salmons an Opelika citizen said. "Without competition then they can charge what they want to charge, you know what I mean," Charlie Dunn another citizen said.

Mayor Gary Fuller says the issue took root long before Tuesday's meeting. "I got lots of phone calls about the service, especially from some of our senior citizens that are on fixed incomes," Mayor Gary Fuller said. Fuller says he's received more complaints about the city's local cable provider than any other issue since he's been in office.

"It has to do with the prices Charter customers pay in Opelika, and it has to do with the level of service," Fuller said. Charter's 20-year franchise agreement will be up for renewal come December, and the City has even hired a consultant to work out the new contract.

The Mayor says it's likely that Opelika will provide cable, phone, and internet to its citizens with better prices. "We've done a feasibility study. We feel very confident in the results of that, which says we can do it successfully," said Fuller.

"I anticipate that we'll have a franchise agreement and then I think at some point you're going to see the City of Opelika in the cable, internet and telephone business," Fuller said.

Charter representative Skip James, from the company's Birmingham office attended the meeting. He was unavailable for comment earlier on Tuesday evening. No formal decision was actually made with regards to the company's contract.