Comcast is coming
It's official: Comcast will be providing telecommunications services to Woodburn residents.
On Monday, March 22, Woodburn City Council unanimously (with two councilors absent) enacted an ordinance granting franchise to Comcast of Oregon. The agreement will allow the telecommunications company to construct, operate, maintain and provide infrastructure within the city of Woodburn.
Those services, often referred to by the Xfinity brand name, include cable TV, internet and phone.
Tim Goodman, Comcast's Portland-area senior director for government and regulatory affairs, presented information about the company's desire to offer services in Woodburn at the council's previous March meeting. At that time, he conservatively estimated that services would be ready within 18 months after they began installing equipment.
"I gave you an estimate, and I was kind of right but kind of wrong too," Goodman told the council March 22. "We anticipate that once construction begins, we would be able to begin offering service about 6 months later from that date versus a year or more later.
"Basically, as the system builds out, we will be able to provide services to customers accordingly as we go through the respective neighborhoods," he added. "So that's an update that I wanted you to know."
Goodman said Comcast is prepared to expedite the project and submit permit applications virtually immediately. He said infrastructure work will likely begin in the northeast section of Woodburn.
Earlier this month, the city of Hubbard also enacted a franchise agreement with Comcast. The company's representatives have also had conversations with the cities of Aurora and Mount Angel.
On Thursday Comcast officials said construction for both Woodburn and Hubbard is expected to begin late this summer, and a small portion of Woodburn resident will have service available by the end of 2021. Completion ofthe construction is projected for 2022. Services in Hubbard will follow a similar schedule.
The cable infrastructure will require 120 miles of hybrid fiber and coaxial cable in Woodburn; 35 miles in Hubbard.
It marks only the second expansion of Comcast's service footprint in more than 30 years, though Comcast of Oregon and Southwest Washington has grown substantially over the past three years by connecting new subdivisions or via aqusition of other providers.
Comcast Regional Vice President David Tashjian said the company is delighted to bring its technology into Woodburn and Hubbard.
"Our technology leadership and entertainment assets are a fantastic combination, bringing customers closer to the moments that matter," Tashjian said. "We are keenly aware that internet service is more critical than ever for distance-learning and working from home, and this network expansion will help to bring digital equity to Woodburn and Hubbard."
Reaching out to farther flung areas has been a focus of the cable company in recent years.
"Providing top-quality internet service to some of the more rural areas adjacent to our existing service territory has been a priority for us," said Mark Nugent, Comcast's director of business development for Oregon/SW Washington. "We're preparing to stage equipment to begin construction with the goal of providing initial service by year's end."
Councilor Robert Carney asked what type of marketing campaign the cable company anticipated in Woodburn. Goodman apprised him that there will be direct mail, door hangers, radio and TV ads, social media marketing and local-sponsorship events.
"Our community investment team will be putting on strategic events within the city," Goodman said. "It's going to be full scale; it's going to be a really big campaign and were going to hit all different types of areas and media."
A report furnished by Woodburn Assistant City Manager Jim Row and Assistant City Attorney McKenzie Granum noted that Comcast representatives initially approached the city about its interest in Woodburn in the spring of 2020. As discussions proceeded, the city engaged the services of right-of-way consultant Reba Crocker to negotiate on behalf of the city.
The report stated: "The Franchise Agreement will grant Comcast the right to use the public ROW to provide wireline cable television services. The initial agreement will be for a term of five (5) years and is not exclusive, meaning the city reserves the right to grant a similar franchise to another cable television provider pursuant to the requirements of state and federal law."
Among the terms of agreement specifics is Comcast will pay a 5% gross-revenue franchise fee.
City officials have been fielding ongoing queries from Woodburn residents expressing a desire to have a greater selection of telecommunications options.
"This has been an issue that has been brought to individual councilors, to our city administrator, to the mayor; people have been looking for options and improvement of services for a long time," Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson said. "So this came as a pleasant surprise. It was faster than we thought."
Swenson thanked Crocker, Goodman and the city staff who put the agreement together.
"You made great presentations, and we are obviously convinced, by our votes," Swenson said. "We really appreciate you coming to our community."
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