Dover looks at adding new cable provider
DOVER — The city of Dover will have some tough choices to make, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications, based in Winona, is in the process of applying for a cable TV franchise with Dover, meaning the city could have two cable companies providing land-based TV, Internet and phone services. A public meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday at city hall.
The addition of HBC wouldn't mean residents would lose Mediacom cable. Mediacom does not have a franchise agreement with the city, but it has provided cable and Internet service to Dover through a line agreement with St. Charles, which does have a franchise agreement with the company.
"Most people around here know HBC," said Dover Mayor Roger Ihrke. "We’ve wanted them to come."
Ihrke said that competition is a good thing and that residents have asked for a choice.
Ihrke said that HBC will have a meeting for the public in about two months and that he expects the company would be offering services in Dover this fall.
Gary Evans, president of HBC, confirmed that time line. The move into Dover is part of the company’s $20 million push to expand from Winona County.
HBC is building infrastructure in six communities in the region, including Eyota, Elgin, Plainview, Lake City and Red Wing, Evans said.
Evans said he believes choice is good for consumers and that he hopes people will like what HBC offers. For example, the company offers its own cable TV channel that televises Winona State University sports. It also provides internet connections that move at 1 Gbps speeds in upload and download on fiber optic cable lines, Evans said.
Dover residents will have to decide whether to switch or to stick with a company that's provided cable, Internet and phone service for years in Dover, said Phyllis Peters, communications director for Mediacom in Des Moines, Iowa. She said the company, which has been in business for more than 15 years, provides service to more than 300 communities in Iowa and 150 towns in Minnesota.
Facing a new competitor in the Dover market is just part of doing business, Peters said. "One of the biggest myths is there is no competition," she said. "There’s DirectTV and satellite dishes and in some communities where there’s a city utility."
Peters said Mediacom primarily serves smaller cities because the company saw a need there.
"We’re facing more and more competition, but certainly it’s not new," she said. "People think of us as the cable company, but we also do the Internet and the phone."
She said a Mediacom representative will be at Monday's meeting to answer questions and let customers know the company has no plans to abandon the town.
"Those are always good kinds of meetings," Peters said. "When people start discussing these things, you find out more about what their needs are."