ARLEY - The Arley Town Council has agreed to let Charter Cable operate within the city.
At the monthly meeting, Monday, Jan. 3, all council members were present.
They had received copies of a franchise agreement from Charter, also branded as Charter Spectrum, at the Dec. 6 meeting and had reviewed them in the ensuing month. Before voting on the agreement this month, they discussed what services Charter would offer—currently uncertain—and why it had picked this time to come to Arley.
Tammi Farley, town clerk, said that the company had received funding to provide services to a number of census blocks in Arley, according to an email from Charter, but that it would need the town to approve the franchise agreement before it could operate within it.
The mayor read a passage from the agreement that stated it was for “the construction, operation, and maintenance of a cable system.”
The funds Charter intends to use—and the timing of its request—may both originate with the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which was established in January 2020 “to bring high speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses that lack it,” according to the FCC.
At an auction concluded in December 2020, Charter was granted $1.22 billion from the RDOF after having placed winning bids to provide service to 5,366 census block groups in 24 states, including Alabama, according to the FCC and Fierce Telecom, an online outlet that covers the telecom industry.
Several of those blocks are near Arley, according to an FCC map. Farley said that there are indeed some locations in the Arley area that don’t currently have access to cable TV and/or broadband internet.
Companies who won bids and were awarded RDOF funds must provide service to 40 percent of locations within the awarded area within three years, 60 percent within four years, 80 percent within five years, and 100 percent within six years, unless there are more locations in the area than initially estimated, in which case the company has an extra two years to reach 100 percent.
At the meeting, Robert Williams moved to accept the Charter Cable franchise agreement. Devin Guthrie seconded and all were in favor.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.