Letter: Please don’t renew OB franchise

Thursday, October 14, 2010, 4:14 PM

Dear Members of the Loudoun County Cable and OVS Commission and Board of Supervisors:

I am writing to you as a concerned home owner and taxpayer of Loudoun County. I live in Lansdowne on the Potomac and want to express my dissatisfaction with Open Band as  the communications provider for my community.

When my family and I bought in this development in 2004 and met with the Open Band representative to understand the offering that they were providing, it was presented as an advanced fiber optic “Smart Neighborhood” package including state-of-the-art Internet, TV and telephone services. They led us to believe that they were building an unique and superior TV and Internet package that was going to be better than anything else out in the market place.

Now fast forward almost 6 six years. Open Band has made no investments to improve their service offerings or to add new technology or features to their extremely limited TV and Internet offerings versus the competition. In fact other than adding about 20 HD channels after 4 years of slow rolling, Open Band has not improved one advanced or unique television offering.

They talk about how they are providing Fiber Optic services to our community when in fact our television service is watered down, resold Dish Network. There is no advanced fiber optic television service anywhere in the Open Band TV package that Lansdowne receives. We recently purchased a new LCD TV and needed to upgrade our set top box to an HD box. We asked Open Band for a HD box that has two HDMI ports on it so we can plug in multiple devices to it . Open Band does have a HD box like this that comes with DVR capability as well as  a set top box without  the DVR included. When I went to the Open Band office to get this type of set top box without a DVR included, I was told by the rep in the office that they did not have any of the newer HD set top boxes available and if I wanted one, I could put my name on a list so when someone else from the neighborhood who already had one of these very limited boxes moved out; then they could give me one. The rep proceeded to say that they have been instructed to hand out the older version of the set top box to residents until they are all gone and only then will Open Band invest in buying new set top boxes. I asked if I could order one and again, I was told that Open Band was not going to do that for any of their customers.

Is this a company that cares about its customers or is competing to be on the cutting edge of technology? It is pretty evident from this example that Open Band is not. They hold our community captive in a noncompetitive, unethical and technically illegal agreement based on the fact that the FCC has ruled that exclusive noncompetitive agreements not made in the best interest of the consumer are no longer legal.

Open Band and the developer that put together this deal are laughing all the way to the bank while their pockets are being lined with millions of dollars of revenue earned while the residents of Lansdowne have to put up with the absolute worst TV services in the marketplace today. As a consumer, would you be happy if the best technology and services were delivered to your neighbors all around you while you had to put up with being underserved or over charged for inferior services from a company that did not have to compete for your business so did not care about serving you in the best possible way?

I urge you to not approve the renewal of Open Band’s TV franchise. They have not earned it and they do not deserve our business any longer. If you approve it with the number of complaints from citizens of Lansdowne and Southern Walk, then it tells me that you care more about serving the private interests of a few wealthy individuals who have put together a deal that benefits them and no one else versus looking out for the best interest of the citizens who live in these select communities in Loudon County.

Sincerely,

Beverly Smart

Lansdowne on the Potomac Resident

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