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AT&T cable contract finalized; new cable provider in town

Last Modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 11:38 AM

By Justin B. Phillips / American Press

Lake Charles has had a cable problem for a while now. With Suddenlink being the primary provider in the area, the city was one of few in the region with such limited choices. In an effort to boost local competition, the city recently finalized a three-year franchise agreement with AT&T.

The topic was broached earlier this week after a representative from a local senior citizen’s apartment complex spoke with the City Council about cable issues. Shelly Young, the apartment manager of Tower Oaks on Louie Street, said the lack of choices created a financial burden for the residents living in the complex’s 152 units.

“We have people with limited incomes who cannot afford to pay whatever Suddenlink decides to charge. I think it should be addressed,” Young said. “We all need, especially seniors who don’t have cellphones, they need to have access so they can catch the news and things like that. To have a monopoly in Lake Charles on cable in 2014 seems unbelievable.”

Several City Council members believe that with the lack of a competitive provider market, residents are forced to overpay for cable. Council President Luvertha August said she agreed with the complaints.

“There is a monopoly here,” she said. “The prices are entirely too high. We don’t have enough competition.”

City attorney Billy Loftin spearheaded the effort to bring in the new provider. The contract was signed last November and is scheduled to end Nov. 21, 2016. From there, the contract will function on a year-to-year basis unless canceled by either party.

Loftin said the city has always been open to providing locals with more cable options. The process of getting providers like AT&T to move into the area is both hard to predict and hard to control, he said.

“We welcome any cable provider that wants to come,” Loftin said. “But the thing you have to understand is that we can’t make them come here.”

There are still areas throughout the city where AT&T has yet to provide service, Loftin said, but the process is ongoing. Residents looking to change are encouraged to contact the provider to ask about their specific areas.

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