Comcast to cut off Morgan service

Mar 17 2011 - 11:23pm

MORGAN -- Comcast customer George Foss was not happy when a piece of mail told him his cable service would be shut off May 15.

The Mountain Green resident has a hard time receiving free, over-the-air television signals and found Comcast to be an economical cable option.

"It leaves a bad taste in the mouth for the customer," Foss said of the letter signed by Rodrigo Lopez, a Comcast regional vice president.

"It was a poorly written corporate letter without a reason why and without contact information."

Comcast has begun informing all of its Mountain Green and Morgan city customers that the company will no longer be providing cable TV services to those areas.

"This was a difficult decision because we value the relationship with our customers," said Ray Child, a Comcast public relations representative.

"The number of customers has declined over the years, and we are no longer in the position to viably operate the system and provide a level of service."

Child said the number of both Morgan city and Mountain Green Comcast customers is fewer than 100. City officials were told recently there were only 44 Comcast connections within city limits.

"It's just a question of dollars," said Morgan City Attorney Gary Crane, who recently spoke with Comcast representatives while at the Utah Legislature. "It was a monetary decision on their part."

Child said Comcast is not violating any contracts it has by ending service to the areas.

Crane said Comcast's costs to service its Morgan customers were triple that of the revenue produced. Comcast customers in the two areas will be given two free months of service "to make the transition easier," according to Lopez's letter.

The letter mentions DirecTV and Dish Network as viable options for Comcast customers. But to those customers affected, the transition will not be easy because the satellite-TV providers don't offer a comparable plan in the same price range.

"Comcast was the next affordable step from free. This is in an area (Mountain Green) that can't get local (over-the-air) channels," said Ronda Kippen, a Morgan County councilwoman who first heard about the issue when contacted by the Standard-Examiner.

"It is an absolute outrage to cut these customers off and allow them no other service. People are frustrated and concerned. It breaks my heart."

On Thursday, after talking with a Comcast representative, Kippen sent an e-mail softening her position.

"It is unfortunate to see Comcast leave Morgan County. They ... have been a great business to have in our community," she wrote. "It is sad but even the 'big guys' have to watch the bottom line during hard times."

"I like Comcast. I don't want to go to any other provider," Foss said. "Comcast is forcing me to another provider."

Comcast offered only television services to its Morgan customers. It has had a franchise agreement with the county since 1996, Kippen said.

"They had the potential to offer Internet and phone service, but they never tried to market and develop it," said Jim Egbert, the mayor of Morgan city.

Foss said he is left wondering what to do with his Comcast equipment after May 15. Child said customers will be notified in a future letter that they can return Comcast equipment to the Layton office or request a postage-paid box to return the equipment through the mail.

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