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DCCA Hearing on Hawaiian Telcoms Application for Cable Franchise in Maui County

 

Akakū would like to ask you to submit testimony to the DCCA by March 21st, 2024 regarding Hawaiian Telcom’s application for a franchise in Maui County. Healthy competition is a good thing because if enough of you testify to many of the things the incumbent Spectrum monopoly has flat out refused to provide, like High Definition channels for Akaku, faster, affordable internet speeds, guaranteed financial support of community media into the future regardless of technology, and fiber to the home  can be made part of the new Hawaiian Telcom plan.

All testimony should be written and submitted to the DCCA Cable Television Division BEFORE MARCH 21 via email at cabletv@dcca.hawaii.gov or by Fax 808 586 2625 or USPS to:

Cable Television Division

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

P.O.BOX 541

Honolulu, HI 96809

Sample Testimony:

TESTIMONY ON  HAWAIIAN TELCOM SERVICES COMPANY APPLICATION (HTSC)

TO OPERATE A NEW CABLE TELEVISION FRANCHISE IN MAUI COUNTY

BEFORE

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Nadine Y. Ando, Director

Randy M. Leong, Cable Television Administrator

My name is ______________________________ and I am a resident of Maui County.

This is my testimony regarding an Application by Hawaiian Telcom Services Company (HTSC) to operate a new cable television franchise in Maui County. The State DCCA has powerful discretion to require by force of contract, enforceable, tangible public benefit for Maui County residents in exchange for HTSC  use of our valuable PUBLICLY OWNED RIGHTS OF WAY. Should its application be accepted, DCCA will grant the Hawaiian Telcom Services Company, “the Privilege of a Franchise “ that is worth billions of dollars over a fifteen year franchise term. To that end, provided that certain public benefits are agreed to by HTSC, and included in the franchise agreement, I am in favor of Hawaiian Telcom entering the Maui Nui cable television market for the simple reason that competition may encourage the incumbent monopoly provider, Spectrum to offer public benefit services it has refused to deliver. These services include High Definition channels for Akaku, inclusion of PEG channels on new, hybrid signal delivery appliances (Xumo), faster, affordable internet speeds, guaranteed financial support of community media into the future regardless of technology, accessible local management, and fiber to the home.

As referenced in its application, HTSC  has committed to transmit PEG channels at no cost, has offered “on demand” channels to PEG upon request, and has built, or stated its intent to build fiber to the home. I request that  the DCCA Cable Division ensure that these major tenets be codified in a new HTSC franchise agreement that will stand the test of time so that community PEG media is fully supported in a rapidly evolving communications landcape.

The bottom line is that Maui Nui consumers expect the DCCA Cable Division to look out for the public interest, and for HTSC to meet its’ civic obligation to the Maui Nui community in exchange for. being allowed to use our Public Rights of Way

These are some but not all of  the areas of concern that Maui consumers would like DCCA to address in this franchise application process:

FRANCHISE FEES

Technology is evolving at blinding speed and what we used to call “TV” is being delivered everywhere and on every device via Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)  DCCA must not allow HTSC to use multichannel video programming distribution services, streaming apps, or other technical means, appliances, or applications yet to be invented or deployed, to diminish, reduce, or circumvent franchise fee funding of community communications.

The DCCA must recognize this and mandate by contract that HTSC commit to supporting PEG Access channels by funding them for the franchise term for at minimum, present day levels. Currently, the Maui PEG provider receives an Annual Operating Fee of 3% and an annual Capital Fee of $3.00 per subscriber. The DCCA must also prohibit the “migration” or “rebranding” of traditional cable TV services as streaming services to diminish or eliminate

franchise fee obligations.

In addition I request that the DCCA  reconsider previous unilateral Decision and Orders that

amended the franchise definition of “gross revenue” that reduced the amount of franchise fees the DCCA was allowed to collect .The DCCA should issue a new Decision and Order in  and restore the previous calculation of franchise fees to include all revenue sources allowable by law. (i.e. home shopping, advertising sales, device charges, etc.)

PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL, AND GOVERNMENT ACCESS CHANNELS  & FACILITY SUPPORT

HTSC needs to be responsible for all costs associated with Public, Educational and Government (PEG) facility transmission equipment  and interconnection between between Akaku’s main studio and County of Maui facilities at the County Building, and the HTSC headend(s). This includes technology upgrade costs for signal quality improvement.  New facility support transmission equipment must be at the current resolution afforded to nationally affiliated broadcast stations.

HTSC  needs to commit to guarantee the same  PEG channel designation and channel number placement (53,54, and 55) as long as they remain current for the term of the franchise. HTSC may not alter or change these designations without the full written consent of the PEG provider. In addition, HSTC should commit to channel placement on multiple tiers in the same manner that it illuminates local broadcast channels.

HTSC notes in its application that its “Fioptics +video platform expands customers viewing experience by combining linear TV with direct to consumer apps such as Max, Netflix & Disney Plus  HTSC further asserts that it will negotiate with the PEG provider regarding adding Video On Demand capabilities for PEG upon request  at no  cost. Akaku has developed an on demand video app: the MauiStream, and would welcome a commitment from HTSC to  include it in its direct to consumer profile.

HTSC states in its application that it is willing to make available to the Director 2,000 PSA’s of at least 30 seconds in length cablecast on its channels per calendar year for use by State and County Agencies. I suggest amendment that the PEG provider be provided an additional 1000 PSA’s for its own use on behalf of community organizations or alternatively, that community organizations and the PEG provider be added to the list of designees.

Wi-Fi  AND UPSTREAM VIDEO CONNECTIONS TO COMMUNITY ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS AND DESIGNATED FACILITIES.

To support economic development and education, HTSC must provide live upstream transmission capability and high speed broadband service to designated Community Anchor Institutions, public and private schools, government buildings, hospitals, libraries, community centers, community media centers, non-profit agencies, and public parks provided that these costs are assumed by HTS, are entirely voluntary and  are NOT SUBTRACTED from the 5% Franchise Fee payment cap.

In the event that HTSC does not agree to provide these connections as described at no charge,DCCA should include a provision that: should the FCC rule allowing INET requirements and drops to schools to be assessed “in kind”and deducted from the 5% franchise fee be modified or removed by court order or other means during the franchise term, that  HTSC agree that DCCA in its discretion be allowed to require reasonable INET and other public benefit connections and services to be provided by HTSC to designated sites at no charge.

BUILD OUT REQUIREMENTS

DCCA should establish a line extension policy with a minimum density requirement of no more than a average of 15 residences per linear strand mile of aerial cable for areas in which HTSC will make cable television service tonevery residence

CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS

We want DCCA to put concrete language in the franchise agreement that enforce rate transparency, service level agreements and cable programming service agreements to ensure that HTSC  delivers advertised performance. These agreements should contain penalties for non-compliance and be reviewable by DCCA every two years. We would also appreciate local management presence to address local needs of consumers particularly on neighbor islands.

Mahalo for the opportunity to provide testimony on this very important matter.