Customers of a small cable company in Vermont are protesting the company’s pending sale to Comcast.
The sale of Southern Vermont Cable Co. (SVCC), which has about 2,450 subscribers running 123 miles of cable, is being reviewed by the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. The committee agreed 25 public commentsall of them either oppose the sale or express concerns that it will be bad for consumers without appropriate consumer protection measures.
Southern Vermont Cable owner and president Ernest Scialabba founded SVCC in 1988. He is selling the company and plans to retire after spending more than 40 years in the cable industry. Comcast already provides service in local areas.
“I am confident that an organization like Comcast will provide SVCC’s subscribers with quality customer service and will continue to invest in SVCC’S programs,” Scialabba told the board in evidence. He noted that “continuing investment” is necessary and said that the sale “to Comcast will improve the technologies, operations, and financial resources available to support the program.”
What customers are saying
While a sale of the company appears unlikely, customers who submitted comments would prefer a buyer other than Comcast. Here’s a sampling of comments from nine Vermonters:
- I have nothing but praise for the good people at SVCable, and nothing but contempt for Comcast. As a computer repair professional for 20 years, I have had many dealings with Comcast/Xfinity, almost all of them bad. I’d rather have no Internet service than give a penny to Comcast.
- SVCC provides exemplary service! They make quick repairs and deliver a great product for an affordable price. They truly care and appreciate their customers. I have had Comcast in the past and it was not affordable, their call center is not local, they are not friendly and their focus is on making money. It is a monopoly. Comcast is not for Vermont. If Comcast takes over SVCC we can all say goodbye to the personal, hard working people, company and service we’ve all come to know!
- Comcast’s well-known poor customer service is unacceptable in our community. Comcast has not proven that they are able to deal with many of the weather related outages here. It was clear that a company the size of Comcast would not be the answer to our service needs here in Putney. A brief search on the Internet shows how poor Comcast’s business practices and customer service are. Also, what will happen to our labor costs? Comcast and Xfinity are notorious for jacking up prices!
- As a long-time Southern Vermont Cable customer, I love the quality of service I receive. I can stream anything I want, the Internet speed is excellent and the price is affordable. I was surprised at the possibility that the company could sell itself to Comcast, famous throughout America for its high prices and terrible service. Comcast is a mega corporation with no regard for customer service. Fighting with them can become a full-time business. Please do not accept this sale.
- Our experience with Comcast was negative and we will quickly find another service if they hire SVC.
- What concerns me about this proposed merger is that nothing has been presented to customers about what service and prices will be offered by Comcast.
- We are a client of SVCC and would like to introduce ourselves total opposition to Comcast buying this company. Telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast have enjoyed monopolies on the ramp to the Internet. They have outsourced media companies and positioned themselves to dominate the media flowing over those connections. Keep our local companies free and strong!
- If this passes, we will have separated one step from a local operation of a family where the head of the company (or his brother) is always available for work calls, to a high international organization that will pay a lot of attention to us. and hands like worms caught under shoes.
- As a resident of Dummerston and a Southern Vermont Cable subscriber, I oppose the sale of SVC to Comcast. There is no competition for Comcast and they seem to be wasteful and ineffective to many people. Vermonters in this area need an option other than Comcast for cable, Internet and phone options.
“The safest option”
Scialabba told VTDigger that selling to Comcast was “the safest option.”
“A fair number of small startups are looking to buy, but most of them want to get in and out and make money quickly,” he said. “Technologies are changing quickly and everything is more expensive. In another 10 years, many companies will go away. Comcast is the safest option because it’s not going anywhere.”
SVCC and Comcast urged the board to approve the change in a joint plea. Comcast regional VP of government affairs Daniel Glanville tell the committee that “Comcast will provide increased reliability and network capacity” to current SVCC customers. He continued:
Comcast plans to integrate the SVCC system into Comcast’s cable backbone to provide redundancy and reliability. Comcast’s cable network is closely monitored and maintained by local, regional, and regional staff. Sea restoration, plant maintenance, and head services will be supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. By integrating the SVCC system into Comcast’s route diversity and redundant cable network, SVCC subscribers will enjoy a more reliable network with greater capacity.
A state lawmaker is urging the state board to impose conditions on the sale. VTDigger wrote:
The Public Utilities Commission is expected to rule on the proposed auction by spring. State Rep. Michael Mrowicki of Putney has asked that approval be tied to a “high performance standard” with defined benchmarks and an extension to unincorporated areas.
“The reality is that Ernie is going out of business,” Mrowicki said, “and there are no other options.”