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December 19, 2013

Mediacom Scares Emmetsburg, Iowa Away From Community Broadband

By Bill Neilson

Last week, Karl noted that Mediacom was just "tired of hearing about" Google Fiber. Now, Community Broadband Networks takes notice that Mediacom is now tired of hearing citizens in Emmetsburg, Iowa point out Mediacom’s lack of investment in their local infrastructure. Recently, a majority of voters in Emmetsburg supported a proposal to issue bonds to build a local fiber network. But due to Iowa rules with obligation bonds, they were not able to get enough votes to have the proposal pass.

Part of the reason for the failure to pass the measure was due to Mediacom to dropping misleading pamphlets across the community. Scaring locals with misleading data or push polls is a bit of a long-standing tradition in the competition-phobic U.S. broadband industry.

In one pamphlet (pdf), Mediacom VP Dan Templin insists that the city already has gigabit service via fiber in the area and that Mediacom will be expanding it shortly to businesses. Of course, availability and price is not mentioned, and this excludes residential service. Templin puts out a call for users to help Mediacom "leverage their investment" by e-mailing a general Mediacom address (whatever that means).

Another pamphlet (pdf) features a local Mediacom employee scaring residents with phantom tax increases and largely irrelevant FCC statistics, while claiming local competition for the company is "fierce." The focus, as is usually the case, is on all the instances where these projects fail (and like all business proposals, especially when designed poorly, many do fail) -- not where they succeed.

It's worth noting that Mediacom was ranked dead last in a 2012 Consumer Report's ISP rankings, and their recent decision to put all of their users on mandatory metered plans are courtesy in large part to no serious competitive market pressure. As always, it's worth repeating that towns like Emmetsburg wouldn't be building their own networks if they were satisfied with what's available.

But, we shouldn’t beat up on Mediacom too much as they obviously will be forced to pay election expenses for the pamphlets. Oh wait, nowhere in the pamphlets is an official “Vote No” statement, which means that Mediacom gets to avoid reporting it as an election expense.

Cited from Broadband