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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Comcast seeking renewed franchise with Fredericksburg

The Fredericksburg City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday, June 10 to consider renewing a telecommunications franchise with Comcast.

The franchise would allow Comcast to use the city’s rights-of-way and continue providing cable television service here for a term of 15 years, along with Fredericksburg’s other two franchisees, Verizon and Cox.

Comcast’s cable television franchise expired in 2009 with Fredericksburg but the cable provider has continued to serve their customers while the city attorney’s office negotiated the terms of a new agreement, according to the proposal.

The original franchise with Comcast dates back to 1999.

The agreement allows Comcast to serve the entire city, but only requires them to serve the area west of I-95 and north of Route 3. According to the proposal, Comcast does not plan to expand outside of that service area at this time, but the franchise would allow any future expansion Comcast decides to undertake.

According to the terms of the franchise, Comcast must provide a free connection to any occupied dwelling in its service area that is less than 125 feet from a “trunk” or “feeder line.” Comcast must also work with other cable providers to ensure that all cable customers in the city receive Fredericksburg’s three public access channels.

Fredericksburg will also receive a $5,000 up-front grant and 20 cents per Comcast subscriber per month to use for that programming.

The agreement also contains customer service standards that cover installations, outages, technical support, deposits, billing, disconnections and complaints.

Comcast is subject to the Communication Sales and Use Tax, of which the city receives a portion from the state.

The hearing is at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.