MTC wins approval for Downsville expansion

By Brian Sweeney
Margaretville Telephone Company (MTC) has received Public Service Commission approval for expanding services into Downsville. MTC began the process of replacing the Downsville Community Antenna System Inc., more than a year ago. The Public Service Commission issued its Certificate of Confirmation in mid-December.
Downsville has one of the last community-run cable systems and the cost of upgrading the longtime cable franchise led to talks with MTC.
The Margaretville company will soon be offering Downsville customers digital telephone service, high-speed Internet connections and enhanced cable packages and programming options.
The agreement with the Downsville company calls for the existing company to abandon its existing infrastructure when MTC Cable is ready to provide service.
With all of the pieces of the contract in place, except the final certificate, MTC began expanding its fiber-optic cable system 20 miles to Downsville last October.
MTC plans to begin making connections to Downsville homes and businesses by mid-February, weather permitting. If there are no long delays, the new system should be operational in April. There should be no interruption of service during the changeover.
Glen Faulkner, MTC’s general manager, said there are approximately 600 potential new customers in the Downsville system. The Downsville system at one time had about 500 customers, but that number has dwindled to about 250.
MTC provides cable services to Margaretville, Arkville, Roxbury, Grand Gorge and Andes. The company currently has about 2,500 customers . The company’s last expansion occurred in 2004 when MTC purchased some Time Warner properties in the Denver and Highmount areas.
Mr. Faulkner explained that an expansion into Downsville was something MTC had considered for a number of years. However, there was no cost-effective way to close the seven-mile coverage gap from Beech Hill in the Town of Andes to Downsville. When MTC earned a subcontract from BOCES to add schools into its communications network (including Downsville), the expansion became feasible.
The MTC general manager said his company hopes to keep current Downsville system subscribers and attract customers there who are using other options.