VAIL, Colorado - Comcast's cable service in the town of Vail should have all the "bells and whistles" that the company provides in any market by the end of the year, a company representative told the town council Tuesday.
The town of Vail's relationship with Comcast has been strained since Comcast's previous franchise agreement with the town expired about a year and a half ago. The town ordered an audit of the cable company's service last October, which produced evidence of hundreds of violations by Comcast during the previous franchise agreement. The town and Comcast haven't yet been able to reach a new franchise agreement, and a Town Council meeting in mid-January with Comcast's former representative for the area, Janet Rinaldi, was hostile and combative.
The new Comcast representative for the area, Mike Trueblood, was much more forthcoming Tuesday. He admitted some of the company's faults, while telling the town the company is committed to making service in the area better.
Trueblood, Comcast's area vice president and general manager for the Denver metro and mountain region, said Comcast has done quite a bit of work to address issues identified in the town's audit, as well as other issues. He said the company has made over 165 repairs in the area.
"I feel like we've made a lot of headway. It's a work in progress," Trueblood said.
Last year, Comcast entered an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation to lease two existing single-mode fiber optic strands along Interstate 70 for 20 years. That was the first step in improving service in the area, Trueblood said.
"I was really proud of this CDOT deal. It's been a long time coming," Trueblood said.
Council members still asked why customer service in the area isn't better - Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said Comcast recently told her it would be three days before a technician could come out and make repairs at her home - but the tone of the meeting was a lot friendlier than the meeting last January.
Trueblood told Rogers the company's response times for the month of July were averaging about 50 hours - 14 hours short than Comcast's goal.
"We didn't meet our objective for the average time to repair," he said, adding that the company has been bringing in more people from Denver to try to meet service needs when demands are high.
Councilman Andy Daly said town residents and guests frequently ask why Vail lacks the technology available elsewhere and what other improvements might be made in the near future.
A digital transition will launch this fall, Trueblood said, which will launch between 70-75 high definition channels. Comcast will also be launching its digital voice product and high speed data.
Everyone who doesn't already have a digital box hooked up to their televisions will need to get a box in order to access the new digital channels. Each household can have up to three boxes, or digital devices, free of charge. Additional boxes are $1.99 per month.
"When we finish by the end of the year, the (technology) lineups will be virtually identical to what we have in Denver," Trueblood said.
Town Attorney Matt Mire told the Town Council that he would bring a compliance agreement to members in executive session that addresses Comcast's past violations. The town cannot consider a new franchise agreement with Comcast until the town assures Comcast is compliant with the old agreement, Mire said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.