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Comcast seeks OK to ‘close’ office it closed

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POSTED December 17, 2013 1:57 a.m.

A broken wire for a cable box means one Manteca senior citizen can no longer simply drive to central Manteca and have the problem addressed by a Comcast representative.

“They told me I could go to Stockton but that’s a 17-mile drive,” the woman who declined to be identified said when she called the Bulletin Monday afternoon. “If they mailed it (the wire) to me it would be three to five days in the mail.”

The Manteca City Council when they meet tonight is being asked to essentially formerly approve the closure of the Comcast office in the 200 block of North Grant Avenue.

Comcast went ahead and closed the office on Nov. 29 even though the council has yet to grant them relief from their contractual obligation to maintain a Manteca office under terms of their franchise agreement with the city regarding cable TV service only. Internet service wasn’t offered when the 20-year deal was inked.

Comcast has noted a large number of customers now pay online. They also have other options as to where they can obtain and return cable equipment. With the closure of Best Buy, it isn’t clear if there is such a location in Manteca.

Signs on the office refer customers to locations in Tracy and Modesto where expanded service centers are located.

The council meets at 7 p.m. tonight at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, instead of their usual location. The city council chambers are currently undergoing renovations to make the facility compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Elected municipal leaders were originally scheduled to act on Comcast’s request at the Nov. 19 council meeting. They balked, however, believing that simply providing high speed cable modem service to the Union Road fire station and wastewater treatment plant through the expiration date of the franchise agreement on June 19, 2015 wasn’t an equitable deal.

Staff has come back with a new negotiated proposal with Comcast that would provide free high speed modem service for the Union Road fire station and city hall for the next 18 months. The city would also receive a $10,000 technology grant from Comcast to use as they see fit.

In exchange, Comcast is released from its obligation to rent office space and retain staff for a Manteca office for the next 18 months.

The additional high speed data access would continue free of charge until the end of the franchise agreement unless a new franchise agreement is hammered out. That means the high speed service could become a city expense after June 19, 2015.

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