On July 8, MACC will review a proposed franchise for CenturyLink to expand its services beyond its existing voice and broadband products to a new cable television service it calls PRISM. The proposed franchise would be effective only in those areas where CenturyLink currently provides telephone service in five MACC Member Jurisdictions: Lake Oswego, North Plains, Tigard, West Linn and portions of northeast unincorporated Washington County.
The proposed franchise has a limited duration, five years, with incentives to expand to more homes and residences. If CenturyLink is able to provide service to half of the homes in its voice territory by 2021, the franchise would be extended to a full ten year term.
CenturyLink’s PRISM service has been active in other portions of the US for some time, and the company is now expanding beyond those trial areas. Locally, PRISM service was initiated in small portions of the City of Portland in May 2015 through a franchise that is similar to the proposed MACC franchise.
PRISM costs and services are similar to what other cable providers offer. The major benefit to consumers is the ability to compare and choose among wireline providers.
If the CenturyLink franchise receives a recommendation from the Commission on July 8, the five affected jurisdictions will review the franchise. All five jurisdictions’ governing boards must approve the franchise to make it effective in any of the jurisdictions.
On June 10, the Board of the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission unanimously recommended adoption of the franchise by its fifteen member jurisdictions. Over the next two months, all jurisdictions will review MACC’s proposal. The MACC Intergovernmental Agreement requires that the proposed franchise be adopted by every jurisdiction Council or Commission to complete the process.
While discussions went on far too long, 28 months, the proposed franchise agreement will bring substantial community benefits to the MACC member jurisdictions. One major advantage to the franchise will be a consolidated structure for all member jurisdictions and cable customers – currently, three separate Comcast franchises apply in various parts of the MACC service area. In addition, regulations will be largely standardized, not just for Comcast, but for all cable systems in the MACC area.