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Ogdensburg wants improved service from Time Warner Cable

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OGDENSBURG — As the city considers renewing an agreement with Time Warner Cable that authorizes the media giant to operate within city limits, Mayor William D. Nelson said he wants to see improved service from the company.

“There have been quality issues,” Mr. Nelson said of Time Warner’s service in Ogdensburg.

Mr. Nelson said that in the 10 years since the city last approved a franchise agreement with Time Warner, city residents have seen a steady decline in the quality of service.

“The local representation is not there anymore,” Mr. Nelson said, adding that he’s heard from residents who have to wait days before anyone from Time Warner comes to fix bad connections or deal with complaints.

“A lot of residents are feeling frustrated by what I would call the lack of efficient, high-quality service,” he said.

Mr. Nelson noted that no one from Time Warner Cable went to Monday’s City Council meeting, where there was a public hearing on the contract’s renewal.

“It’s representative of where Time Warner has gone. You can’t call Massena now, or Ogdensburg, to get service. You can’t reach a local person. That’s the frustrating part. We just don’t have the attention on the local level,” Mr. Nelson said.

City residents have also dealt with an increasing amount of pixilation in their broadcasts, Mr. Nelson said.

Joli Plucknette-Farmen, spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable, declined to comment on the specifics of the negotiations or the complaints about the company’s service in Ogdensburg.

“We are currently working with the city of Ogdensburg to renew our agreement and look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come,” Ms. Plucknette-Farmen said.

Mr. Nelson said despite the complaints, he doesn’t expect the city will consider ending its relationship with Time Warner Cable, but it hopes to get more services.

The current franchise agreement expires at the end of this year. Time Warner had requested that the city renew the contract for 15 years, but Mr. Nelson said that the city will likely look at a shorter amount of time.

“There is so much technology and so many things can change” in 15 years, Mr. Nelson said. “We want to make sure we avail ourselves of the most up-to-date technology.”

In particular, Mr. Nelson said, the city wants Time Warner Cable to guarantee that the public access channel remains online and that the city can use it during emergencies.

Under the current contract, the city receives a franchise fee of 5 percent of Time Warner’s gross income from cable service in the city.

City Comptroller Philip A. Cosmo said in 2013 that amounted to $146,741, down from $157,000 in 2011.

In 2009, the cable company was audited by the city and was required to pay $52,000 that it owed, Mr. Cosmo said.

Mr. Nelson said the goal of the negotiations is to increase the level of service and quality that Time Warner offers in Ogdensburg.

Other companies are welcome to set up in Ogdensburg, Mr. Nelson said, although they would not be allowed to use Time Warner’s system and would have to install their own infrastructure.

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