County Council asked to reject Comcast extension

Government would get fiber-optic network in deal

September 15, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Verizon repairman and union steward asked Baltimore County Council members yesterday to turn down a proposed extension of the county's nonexclusive franchise agreement with Comcast - a deal in which the cable giant has agreed to build the county government a fiber-optic network in exchange for the county giving up a claim on disputed Internet fees.

"You're not getting anything for free," said Michael Herdock, a Verizon repairman and Communications Workers of America union steward who attended a council work session with several other union representatives. "Comcast isn't Santa Claus. ... This is a no-bid contract. It's an attempt to bypass Verizon."

Councilman Kevin Kamenetz said that it would not be possible to seek bids for a fiber-optic network connecting county buildings that the county would receive at no cost in exchange for dropping a claim to fees that had generated about $800,000 a year to the county. Although the county has a three-year contract with Verizon for telephone service, the network could eventually allow the county to operate its phone system, officials said.

The council is scheduled to vote Monday on the proposed franchise agreement extension.

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