Valdosta may offer Internet, cable TV - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta may offer Internet, cable TV

May 19, 2004

Valdosta - You could soon be paying more than just your water and sanitation bill to the city of Valdosta. An advisory committee is giving city council the green light on creating a municipal telecommunications system. "They've spent the better part of the last 18 months studying this issue, visiting cities like Thomasville, Tifton, and Dalton and seeing their experiences both good and bad," said City Manager Larry Hanson.

The system would include cable television, high speed Internet, and telephone service. Hanson says it will be a big economic booster for Valdosta, and bring more industry to the area. "Hopefully more businesses will locate here because they'll be paying lesser fees for technology," said Hanson.

Right now, everyone who gets cable service in Valdosta pays their bills to Mediacom. The price for basic family tv service is about $43.00, but city leaders say competition will drive those prices down. "We have citizens who see neighboring communities that have lower prices from the same provider we have here and they don't understand that, and of course, the reason is competition," said Hanson.

"Valdosta's paying a premium of 25 percent, that's how much more we're paying than surrounding communities who've already put in their own municipal system," said Merrill Guice, Advisory Committee Member.

But Mediacom Director of Operations Sally Bloom says the city should weigh the pros and cons before jumping into such a risky business. "If I was giving the city advice I'd say be sure you look at all aspects because not only do you have to provide services now, but you've got to most likely upgrade 10 years from now, since technology changes so fast" said Bloom.

City council will discuss the issue at their June 10th meeting. If they pass the recommendation, it will take about a year to get the system up and running.

posted at 3:10 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com