Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Comcast continues its public relations dance in both local newspapers. They have continued to misrepresent the facts in the ongoing saga to provide universal cable access on Martha’s Vineyard.

Two years ago Comcast made a presentation to Edgartown for cabling Chappaquiddick. At the time they estimated a $1.8 to 2 million investment to complete the cabling. To make their case, they stated that more than half the cost was attributable to the directional drilling under the Edgartown harbor.

Since Comcast’s estimate was presented, NStar has had to drill new conduits under the Edgartown harbor in order to maintain electric service to Chappaquiddick. There are two unused conduits under the harbor, which would be available for Comcast’s use. State representative Tim Madden has interceded with NStar to insure the availability of these conduits. Obviously, this would considerably decrease the cost to Comcast.

Comcast’s recent proposal to the Edgartown selectmen states that there are over 500 homes on Chappy. They are concerned that a significant number are seasonal in nature. In response, Chappaquiddick has offered to forgo the seasonal rate offered to the rest of subscribers on MV. This would seem to undercut all of Comcast’s stated objections to providing a service extension.

So what’s the problem with Comcast going forward? Comcast reported another good quarter earlier this year, announcing a 4.7 per cent increase in profits on revenues of $14.3 billion. Let’s not forget that the contract negotiated by Comcast is only about television, despite the fact that in the 21st century we are really talking about bundled services, including internet and telephone. The revenue estimates for Comcast do not include the additional money they will get in fees for internet and telephone.

It’s not just Chappaquiddick at risk, but many areas on MV like the housing project in Chilmark do not have service. A conduit runs up to the development, but apparently Comcast has not completed servicing the project.

After nearly a year of negotiation, Comcast has continued their public relations campaign of misdirection. Thankfully, Pam Dolby and the Edgartown selectmen have taken the high road. They should be applauded for working diligently in order to secure access to 21st century technology for all their constituents.

We had hoped that CEO Brian Roberts, who owns a summer home up-Island, would take a personal interest in efforts to provide universal cable access. We had hoped Comcast would take the high road and negotiate responsibly to solve the problem rather than waste our time spinning a web of misrepresentation. We need Comcast to seriously comment on the compromises the Island negotiating teams have presented.

We would all like to believe in Comcast’s deep commitment to the Island.

Dennis Goldin