Comcast’s arrival triggers homeowners’ questions

By on September 4, 2019

Moving into what has traditionally been Blue Ridge Communications’ territory, Comcast is required to “construct a whole new cable system.”

Comcast is coming to the Lititz/Warwick area and homeowners, especially those with underground utilities running beneath their properties, have questions.
Answering those questions was the reason for a meeting on Aug. 27 when representatives of Xfinity, Comcast’s local brand name, met with homeowners at the Holiday Inn Express, 101 Crosswinds Drive.

Todd Eachus, senior director for Government and External Affairs, Construction Manager Tim Scanlin, and construction team member Keith Allridge, met with ten homeowners to discuss their concerns.

Explaining Comcast’s reason for moving into the area, Eachus said, “I’ve been doing this for a really, really long time in Pennsylvania and I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the question, ‘why can’t we have competition’ In most cases there is one provider in a given area. We were fortunate enough to come upon some funds to be able to experiment in competing with other providers. In this area Lititz Borough, Ephrata Borough, Warwick and Ephrata townships are our first foray into being a competitive provider.”

Moving into what has traditionally been Blue Ridge Communications’ territory, Eachus said, means Comcast is required to “construct a whole new cable system,” not just by stringing new wire overhead, but with new underground wiring and conduits as well.

“We recognize that it is a disruptive process,” Eachus said.

Scanlin said there had been a good deal of miscommunication between Comcast and the people who face what Eachus called “a lot of groundwork.”

“We should’ve done this a couple of months before we started; sat down with you and talk about what’s coming,” he said.

While the audience was few the questions were many. A woman said she recently undertook a large landscape project at her home. She called the utility company and asked them to come out and mark her yard for underground lines.

“Within three days everybody’s lawn was marked and I thought what did I do?” she said.

No explanations were given, she said, and she was forced to call the borough for answers.

“It would’ve been helpful to have some advance warning, even from the borough,” she said. “They know what’s going on. Why couldn’t they have told us?”

She said Comcast and the borough “could’ve done a lot better” communicating with residents.

Scanlin said notices were to be hung on doors explaining what was occurring but added that it wasn’t done.

“We’re learning through hindsight,” Eachus said.

Most of the concerns came from homeowners living in the newly developed area close to John R. Bonfield Elementary School. Among those relatively new streets and homes utilities are all located underground, meaning that to put in the new cable system, excavation will be required, some of it on private property.

Bob Palmer of Cardinal Road complained about the manner in which the work was being done on and around his land.

“Your installers did a sloppy job,” he said. “They didn’t ask questions or anything. They took up my survey pin. They thought it was just a piece of metal.”

When they returned the pin he was told that they thought “it was a piece of junk.”

“To be quite honest with you guys, to do it right, and your lawyer has all the dimensions of my property, they should’ve come back out there and either surveyed or run a line, because they got the measurements,” he said.

Eachus said he’ll “get that taken care of for you.”

Palmer also questioned the placement of a cable pedestal on his property. The pedestal, which measures 10-inches by 10-inches by 25-inches, is what relays the cable signal into individual homes.

A pedestal can service as many as five houses.

“That’s where our tap is and that’s where we get the signal into homes,” Eachus explained.

Palmer wanted to know where they planned to put the pedestal in order to avoid disruption of his landscaping “around the existing boxes and transformers.”
“To be honest with you, I don’t trust your guys,” he said. “I want to take up my own bricks and stone, because if I don’t, your guys will come in and pile it on my yard and kill the grass &tstr; more grass — and I don’t want that.”

He’d like the pedestal to be placed near the already existing utility boxes on his land. Eachus said that can be done provided Palmer signs an easement allowing Comcast to install the wire and conduits across his land. Otherwise the pedestal must be placed along the sidewalks in the public right-of-way.

Palmer said the contractor installing conduits in his area was playing “fast and loose” and had left two of them exposed about six feet from the existing utilities. The contractor intended to temporarily leave the conduits exposed until the borough made him bury them.

“When you come back somebody’s got a helluva lot of digging to do from where those conduits end and where the box is supposed to go,” Palmer said.

Fred Adams of Hummingbird Drive asked about the process of running cable into the homes. When customers sign up, Eachus replied, the cable is run through an underground conduit from the pedestal to the home.

Comcast is installing this type of pedestals (shown here in Lititz) on the grass area between the curb and the sidewalk of newer homes that use only underground utilities.

“So nothing will be done to my property unless I want cable?” Adams asked.

“That’s right,” Eachus responded.
Construction of the new cable system began last December as Comcast began running its lines north out of Lancaster along Route 501 to Millport Road.

“That was the jump-off to get into Lititz,” Eachus said.

Most of the work involves neighborhoods served by underground utilities because that will require excavation. Those served by overhead wires will see little disruption.
Eachus expects the work in the Lititz area to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Comcast’s moving into what has up to now been another provider’s territory is an industry first, Eachus said. While there had never been definitive boundaries that precluded competition between cable providers, what prohibited cable companies from such an expansion into other regions was driven by economics. Simply put, the cost was too high. That is changing.

“As the industry has evolved the economic models change,” Eachus said. “Opportunities present themselves and we have the capital available to do this. We’re excited about the opportunity”
Scanlin said about 1,000 customers from the Lititz area have already signed up.

Larry Alexander is a freelance writer and columnist based in Ephrata. He is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He can be contacted at larry2851@yahoo.com.

One Comment

  1. Jesse Genevish, Jr.

    September 8, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Internet adventure! Simple. Fun?

    Lookup photos of PenTeleData Headquarters – Palmerton, Pa.

    Lookup photos of Comcast Headquarters – Philadelphia and Manhattan.

    Now think of Comcast/Xfinity and Blue Ridge in Lititz.

    Do you think there is any chance you are being lied to when anyone speaks of “competition”? Lititz is “first” for this CC “experiment”. Why/How/How much did CC pay? “…Comcast had the capitol to invest…”. Likely so… Look again at photos.

    I just talked, in person, to a support specialist(Special #, easily found.) at PTD.Net/Blue Ridge, about a problem setting up an email. On the phone in a minute or so. Problem resolved in another 2 minutes. I really do hate to say this, but: The man spoke very good, very clear English, which I need as I do not hear well. Didn’t ask this time, but in the past, everyone’s been “local”, in Palmerton/Lehighton. Same tremendous 24/7/365 tech support for 30+ years of residential/business service. I will not be moving to any other service anytime soon.

    To those who have already signed-up with Comcast: Let us all know how CC/XF customer support – and everything else – goes for you.

    Comcast could giveaway their services to Lititz(Or anywhere else.) for years, to knock whoever they want out of business. Reminds me of the Walmart “competition” and all the stores with local, local tax paying owners, good wages and services that are long gone.

    If Comcast starts to spread(Like the Spotted Lanternfly, no one can stop them, but we must try.) to Warwick Twp., I, personally will sue the township and Comcast(And I will very quickly run out of money and lose.). Once again, got to make your opinions known and do what you can to keep the bad stuff out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *