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Monday, May 2, 2016

City hosts public meeting with Cable TV provider

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mediacom official says he 'feels Cherokee's pain'

Mediacom representatives were in Cherokee Tuesday night for a public meeting after being asked to attend the meeting by the City of Cherokee to hear concerns from citizens regarding quality and service issues of the large, national Cable TV provider.

Mediacom representative Steve Purcell began by making a few comments about the company, and its facilities and services provided. He said since they took over the Cherokee cable system from AT&T in 2001, Medicom has brought fiber optics into town in order to provide Internet and phone service, and increased the number of TV channels from 31 to 68.

About 30 interested citizens attended the recent public meeting with the City and Mediacom representatives to discuss the on-going quality and outage problems with Cherokee's Cable TV, Internet, and Telephone service provider. Photo by Paul Struck
After several minutes, City Administrator Don Eikmeier interrupted Purcell and said that what the citizens need to hear from Purcell is what can be done to correct the quality and service issues.

Purcell pointed out that they have had eight outages in Cherokee since April 2010. He said their system is up 99% of the time and that they can't guarantee 100%. He explained that cable outages aren't always caused by their system failure, but are also caused by power outages, construction mishaps where somebody accidentally severs a cable, etc.

Comments were then received from the approximately 30 citizens in attendance. Complaints included phone service outages when the cable is out; poor quality cable and phone service; very slow Internet speed; frequent TV picture tiling (pixilating); rude and argumentative customer service representatives; the amount of time it takes to get connected to a service representative; citizens having to take time off work to meet a service technician who doesn't show up at the scheduled time; a business who was without phone service for three weeks, who finally dropped Mediacom and now has Qwest; long-time customers who pay continually increasing rates while new customers receive much lower rates; and the inability to get digital because of inadequate wiring.

Mediacom representative Steve Purcell listened to subscriber complaints at the recent public meeting at the Community Center and pledged to investigate and work to rectify on-going problems. Photo by Paul Struck
It was also brought up that there is just one Mediacom technician in Cherokee and he simply can't answer multiple service calls in a timely fashion. Several citizens spoke in defense of that technician, Tom Brader, saying he does a great job and is a "wonderful" Mediacom representative, but they questioned why there is just one local technician, and why the Mediacom office in Cherokee was closed several years ago, forcing subscribers with issues to travel to Storm Lake to see a "live person."

Eikmeier indicated that the dependency on the system because of bundling of services (Internet, telephone) is greater now than in the past. He asked if there are any plans for a backup if the cable is cut between here and Emmetsburg, the central area feeding the Cherokee system. Purcell reiterated that their plant is up 99% of the time and outages are normally repaired in less than an hour.

The Administrator told the Mediacom group that the City has researched other options for providing cable service to Cherokee. Because Mediacom has pursued a State franchise, the City or another provider would have to build their own system at an estimated cost of $9 - $11 million. Federal subsidies are available to communities that don't currently have a provider, so those subsidies wouldn't be available to Cherokee. Eikmeier maintained that it is difficult to get another provider to come into town because of the expense.

The six Mediacom representatives offered to stay after the meeting and visit with citizens, and take their names, addresses, and phone numbers to follow up on their complaints and issues.

Mayor Mark Murphy thanked Mediacom representatives for listening and said he wants to find a solution to these issues. Also in attendance were City Council Members Linda Burkhart, Mick Mallory, Jim Peck, and Dan Morrow.

Purcell reiterated that he would do all in his power to help Cherokee Medicom subscribers solve their problems with cable TV, Internet, or phone service.

Purcell pledged to further investigate and follow up on the Cherokee complaints. "We're understanding what you're saying," said Purcell, "and we'll investigate and keep trying to resolve your problems."

Purcell also said that Mediacom nationwide fields an average of five million telephone calls each month. He did not say what percentage of that staggering number was for Cable TV outages and other problems.

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