Will Rochester see a second cable provider?
Rochester could see competition in the cable television business.
Indiana-based MetroNet has contacted city officials, citing a desire to apply for a cable-service franchise.
On Monday, the Rochester City Council agreed to open that opportunity by advertising for applications starting in October.
"I’m interested in looking at what we can do as a community to roll out the red carpet to try to improve the competitive marketplace for broadband and cable in the city of Rochester," Council Member Michael Wojcik said.
Charter Communications has been the sole cable provider in Rochester since taking over the franchise from Bresnan Communications more than 15 years ago.
The city looked at starting a municipal cable system in 1998, when negotiating a franchise agreement with Bresnan, and again in 2016 when some members cited concerns about broadband internet service, availability and prices.
Monday, Council Member Ed Hruska acknowledged interest from MetroNet provides a better alternative.
"I’m just glad to see the city didn’t jump into the $100 million investment it would have taken for us to do this," he said.
The 2016 study indicated a cost of as much as $67 million, which was up from the 1998 estimate of $32 million.
If MetroNet opts to apply for a franchise, it will be required to put up $20,000 to cover the city’s costs of hiring an outside attorney with expertise to handle the process, according to Brent Svenby, Rochester’s senior administrative analyst.
Additionally, state law requires any new franchise to cover the same area required by Charter’s existing franchise, and the city must provide similar terms and conditions as it does to Charter.
MicroNet built its first fiber-optic network in Greencastle, Ind., in 2005 and operates in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, offering phone, internet and cable services in more than 50 communities.