Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


July 25, 2012

State Public Utility Commission Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. wants Schuylkill County citizens to have more access to high-speed Internet service, saying Tuesday that it will help everyone in the area. "Information is the new currency," Coleman, Port Matilda, told about 15 Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce members at the group's breakfast meeting at the Oak Hill Inn.

A former president and CEO of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, Coleman has been a PUC member since 2010 and became vice chairman of the five-member PUC in April. He told chamber members that Schuylkill is one of six counties, the others being Butler, Carbon, Fayette, Mercer and Westmoreland, in which the PUC is making a special effort to have people sign up for high-speed Internet service. Those are the six counties that have the lowest rates in the state of people who have such service, according to Coleman. "It's really an awareness campaign," Coleman said of how the PUC is trying to boost such service.

Coleman said people do not need a new computer in order to get high-speed Internet service, and they can go to the PUC's website in order to register for it. People also can combine with their neighbors to file a Bona Fide Retail Request that can quicken installation of such service in an area where people can demonstrate a demand for it, Coleman said. Such an area does not need to be an entire county, or even municipality, but can be as small as a neighborhood if the demand is there, he said.

Coleman said the PUC is looking for people to share their stories of using high-speed Internet service by going to the commission's website and registering as an Internet All-Star. "We're going to look at those success stories," and use one from each of the six counties to help promote the service, he said. He said he does not know why Schuylkill is among the counties with the lowest percentages of high-speed Internet service. Pottsville Republican-Herald

Vandals have hit downtown Altoona businesses, cutting phone, alarm and cable lines along 11th Avenue and causing a few headaches for business owners. "If people can't call you, you can't do much," said Dr. Fred Petrunak of Mountain View Eye Associates, 1418 11th Ave., where unknown vandals ripped multiple phone lines from a metal box behind the building as well as snipped the main wires nearby in two places, including on the roof. Altoona police are investigating, Lt. Jeffrey Pratt said Tuesday.

Petrunak said his office had people not showing up for appointments, something he said was likely a result of no one being able to call. By Monday afternoon, calls were set up to forward to cellphones so the office could keep a line of communication open to patients, patients that sometimes are calling with eye emergencies that can't wait. "You get a piece of something in your eye and you can't get a hold of us," said Petrunak, who said regular phone service was restored by late Tuesday morning. Petrunak said he can't fathom why anyone would go to the trouble of cutting the lines when it didn't appear as if any businesses on the block were burglarized.

Just down the block and across the street, at Saleme Insurance, video surveillance caught what owner Barry D'Andrea described as "kids" cutting the Atlantic Broadband cable that powers the business' phones and Internet at about 8:15 p.m. Sunday. "We were effectively out of business for 3 1/2 hours," said D'Andrea, who said the cable company responded quickly and the tricky part was trying to figure out what was wrong. "It felt like all day." After talking to the owners of several businesses across the street who were also hit, D'Andrea said, he realized what had happened. D'Andrea said he turned the surveillance footage over to Altoona police Tuesday and hopes those responsible are caught.

"They just don't realize the impact when they do this sort of thing," D'Andrea said. Across the street from Saleme Insurance, Michelle Pierson of Power Shears hair salon said her phone lines were cut last week, the evening of July 18, and it wasn't discovered until 10:30 a.m. the next day when she tried to process a credit card.

"There were a lot of people who tried to call and were worried so they came down," Pierson said. Next door to her salon, at Darlene's Kids Shop, Bud and Darlene Musselman said their alarm went down at about 8:30 p.m. July 18 and Verizon got service back for the business the next morning. "It looked like spaghetti," said Darlene Musselman, of the wires yanked from the phone box behind the building. Other businesses in the area were also hit, Darlene Musselman said. Altoona Mirror

Lycoming County will soon be hitting the small screen.

On Thursday the Lycoming County commissioners will consider a memorandum of understanding that will allow the county, along with the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and municipal partners, to create Lycoming County Area Television, or LCAT. LCAT will broadcast over Comcast cable channel 75, as well as via a special website that will be developed, William Kelly, county planning department deputy director, said Tuesday.

Williamsport City Council already broadcasts its meetings on the station, but the new partnership will allow a wide range of content related to tourism and special events to be shown, Kelly said. Of special interest to the county is the ability to pass on emergency information to the viewing public, he said. According to Kelly, the Federal Communication Commission requires cable companies to provide a free public access channel to its viewers. Comcast's predecessor, Suscom, provided the city with equipment with which to broadcast council meetings, as well as other equipment LCAT will be able to use. The Chamber of Commerce pitched in with funding, generated by hotel tax revenue, to cover operating expenses for three years, Kelly said. Hotel tax revenue may only be used to promote tourism. It may be used to fund LCAT because the channel will be used to highlight tourism generators such as the Susquehanna River Walk, Victorian Christmas and the Susquehanna River Fanny Float.

Nothing broadcast on the channel will compete with local television or radio broadcasts, Kelly said. It is unclear how many municipalities will sign on as partners in the venture, he added. The agreement calls for a third-party administrator to be hired and paid through the hotel tax funding. The administrator will be responsible for placing content on the channel and ensuring the content meets FCC regulations, Kelly said. Once the memorandum of understanding is signed by the commissioners, the channel must be up and running within four months, he said. The channel will operate under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce for about a year and a half, Kelly said. After that, a non-profit corporation will be created to oversee operation of the channel, he said. Williamsport Sun-Gazette