Time Warner Cable wants into Tega Cay.
How far into the city, long-term, remains to be seen.
On Dec. 15 the city gave first reading to an ordinance supporting a service request from Time Warner Southeast. The utility applied for a cable franchise agreement to serve a new section of Lake Ridge along Bluebell Way with “video and cable service,” according to the application. The request doesn’t impact other parts of Tega Cay served by Comporium.
“Whether they would look to expand through Lakeridge and onto the peninsula, it’s probably a question better asked of Time Warner Cable,” said Charlie Funderburk, city manager.
Scott Pryzwansky, public relations director with Time Warner, said Monday that such applications are “routine procedure” for the company, with 10 such throughout South Carolina this year. The application is only an initial step toward service, he said.
“This would simply mean we could provide our services and it would be premature to discuss any plans to do so or the areas we would potentially begin to build,” Pryzwansky said.
If the company does enter into Tega Cay, it would bring a full array of services including cable and internet.
“If we bring our services in, it’s going to be for all our services,” Pryzwansky.
The city scheduled a meeting Tuesday morning to take up second and final reading. (The results were not available at press time. Go to fortmilltimes.com for updates.) State law requires a company providing cable or video service to apply for and receive a certificate of franchise authority. Tega Cay brings in a 5 percent franchise fee for such agreements, the same for Comporium, Time Warner or any provider that would offer service in the city. Rights would not be exclusive, as Comporium already serves Lake Ridge.
“People out there,” Funderburk said of the Bluebell Way area, “they will have choices.”
Comporium, which has been competing with Time Warner in the Indian Land Panhandle, Lake Wylie and other areas south of Lake Wylie in York County, isn’t worried about defending more of its market.
“We’ve been competing against them for quite some time on a commercial basis and that’s why we made an investment in upgrading our video and broadband services,” said Matthew Dosch, executive vice president for Comporium. He pointed to the recent roll-out of Zipstream, Comporium’s gigabit Internet service, and the Moxi DVR earlier this year as examples of the company’s commitment to keeping customers.
“Zipsteam – that’s a real (difference maker),” Dosch said. “So, we’ll just stick to our knitting and keep rolling Zipstream out to all the neighborhoods we can.”
How far Time Warner comes into Tega Cay will depend on negotiations with the state and the company’s willingness to lay infrastructure for service. The franchise arrangement with Comporium will remain.
“It won’t impact the existing agreement with Comporium at all,” Funderburk said.
Mayor George Sheppard said about 10 homeowners asked Time Warner to serve them, then Time Warner applied.
“All we did was basically agree,” he said of first reading.
Sheppard said infrastructure cost for the utility likely will determine how large an area it looks to serve.
“It’s a lot easier to come in and lay that infrastructure in Lake Ridge, because it’s basically open at this point,” Sheppard said. “It would be harder to come onto the peninsula, since it’s basically closed at this point.”
Time Warner contacted the city several months back, inquiring about a nearby subdivision that wasn’t in city limits. A Nov. 14 letter from Cindy Durst, state cable franchising coordinator, informed Tega Cay that Time Warner filed for the pending franchise agreement.
The city must respond to the state Secretary of State’s office, which oversees cable franchising, within 65 days.
Fort Mill Times Editor Michael Harrison contributed to this story.