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Comcast completes its acquisition of Southern Vermont Cable

Conversion for customers scheduled for this summer and fall

BRATTLEBORO—Five Windham County communities now have a new cable and communications services provider.

Last week, Comcast announced it had completed its purchase of Southern Vermont Cable Company (SVCC).

Comcast had received its certificate of public good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in May and got approval from the PUC last month to keep the financial details of the sale private, citing the “commercially sensitive” natural of the information.

According to a news release, the process to transition SVCC’s nearly 2,500 residential and businesses customers in Dummerston, Jamaica, Newfane, Putney, and Townshend to Comcast will continue through the fall of 2020.

Dennis Mathew, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Western New England Region, said the acquisition of Southern Vermont Cable Company gives Comcast an opportunity to provide SVCC customers “with access to our innovative products and services.”

Southern Vermont Cable Company was started in 1988 by its current president, Ernie Scialabba. It started offering high-speed internet in 2003 and has maintained 123 miles of cable in the five towns it has served.

Last year, Scialabba announced that he would be retiring and selling to Comcast — Vermont’s largest internet and cable TV provider with about 105,000 customers in 157 towns — because, as he told The Commons in January, “This business is changing so fast.”

In his written testimony to the PUC last December, Scialabba wrote that ”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 systems,” adding that “continued capital investment” is necessary and that the sale to Comcast “will increase the technical, operational, and financial resources available to support the system.”

SVCC customers failed to see it that way, and more than 20 customers wrote letters of protest to the PUC, saying they feared that Comcast’s purchase of SVCC would mean higher prices for TV and internet and less-reliable service.

In the end, Scialabba said, Comcast was the only sound choice because it was the sole prospective buyer with the financial capacity to adequately serve SVCC customers in the coming years.

Comcast’s CPG, which will expire after 11 years, requires the company to provide a “reasonable quality of service” and that its prices for services “shall at all times be reasonable, having regard to the costs of providing such services.”

Comcast will also be required to meet annually with local officials to discuss community needs and send annual notices to its customers to seek feedback on service quality.

Southern Vermont Cable customers will be transitioned to Comcast services road by road, throughout the summer and the fall.

A schedule posted at switch2xfinity.com/TransitionSchedule lists the anticipated timetable for the five towns, with the date for the last accounts to be converted estimated as Nov. 2.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #572 (Wednesday, July 29, 2020). This story appeared on page A2.

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