CableOne carrier manager Albert Macaluso told the Legislature’s broadband study committee that CableOne, which serves 19 states, focuses on high-speed service. “The digital divide is getting smaller,” he said.
CableOne Vice President for Internet Aldo Casartelli said about 80 percent of the company’s customers now get 100 mbps service, which is “almost unheard-of in the U.S.,” and the company is preparing to launch 1-gigabit service over the next year, starting in January; all of CableOne’s residential customers in the state will have the option to purchase the service by the end of next year. CableOne is the 10th largest cable company in the U.S. The two said legacy cable TV lines have been upgraded to add fiber optics, so cable now provides not just TV service but also “the triple play” – video, internet and telephone services.
Under questioning from lawmakers, Macaluso said, “I’m a strong advocate that every school in this state apply for e-rate. We pay those tax dollars, we should claim them. Otherwise Texas or Virginia or another state gets our tax dollars.” E-rate is the federal program that subsidizes broadband services for schools. Idaho’s defunct statewide Idaho Education Network lost its e-rate funding due to legal questions over the contract award for the network; now, individual school districts are contracting for services and applying for e-rate funds.
Asked if Idaho’s broadband tax credit is useful to cable companies, Ron Williams, head of the Idaho Cable Telecommunications Association, said, “Cable companies certainly applied for it and used it. … I would never describe it as something that has incented them to do something that they would not otherwise have done.”