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UPDATE: County denies OpenBand franchise agreement

Loudoun County Supervisors on Wednesday denied Dulles-based telecommunications firm OpenBand a franchise agreement that would have given the company the public right of way to supply cable service to thousands of homes in the Ashburn and Lansdowne areas.

After nearly a year of heated talks among residents of the communities, supervisors and representatives of the firm, Wednesday’s vote took less than 10 minutes to complete.

The vote to deny was 8-1 with Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) opposed.

Delgaudio said he was concerned that denying the franchise agreement would cause future lawsuits against the county by OpenBand.

Prior to the vote, supervisors discussed the legal ramifications of denying the franchise agreement in closed session.

“In this particular circumstance I respectfully have a fundamental disagreement on how we’re treating this particular situation, that it’s going to be the subject of litigation. It’s going to be the subject of contingent negotiation and detailed analysis and frankly negotiation and intervention,” Delgaudio said.

“…. I’m going to have to take my stand and vote to not deny. I think we should continue negotiations in spite of the overwhelming setiment on the part of this board respectively to disagree with my decision,” he added.

Under the county’s Open Video Service ordinance, the company must keep providing cable for a “reasonable time.” That time will expire in June 2012.

OpenBand holds a series of exclusive easements, aside from the county franchise agreement, that were negotiated with developer Van Metre in 2001 that prohibits competitors from serving homes in communities such as SouthernWalk at Broadlands, Lansdowne on the Potomac, Lansdowne Village Green and Leisure World.

The contract allows OpenBand to exclusively provide service to the communities for at least 25 years, with an option for an extension of up to 75 years.

Ben Young, director of government affairs for OpenBand said Wednesday the firm was disappointed by the board’s decision.

“For two years, OpenBand has negotiated in good faith and has acquiesced to virtually every request made by Loudoun County, including service expansions, system upgrades, and enhanced penalties for the failure to perform,” Young said in a statement. “The public record in support of approving OpenBand’s franchise agreement is overwhelming. The County’s independent Cable & OVS Commission, along with its staff and counsel, recommended the approval of the proposed application. This recommendation was rooted in an unprecedented independent technical analysis of OpenBand’s system, which confirmed the quality and state-of-the-art status of the system. In addition, the County’s own research confirmed that OpenBand offers the least expensive cable service in the County and receives fewer trouble tickets per customer than Verizon. Simply put, there was no objective,non-political basis for the Board of Supervisors’ action.”

Young would not comment on whether OpenBand is considering legal action against the county.

“Going forward OpenBand will continue to provide service pursuant to its existing franchise agreement as it considers the best course of action to protect its rights and its customers,” Young said in the statement.

At least two homeowners associations – Southernwalk at Broadlands and Lansdowne on the Potomac – have filed lawsuits against OpenBand in federal court over those exclusive easements, saying they violate Federal Communication Commission laws.

A third homeowners association, Lansdowne Village Green, is considering litigation.

In addition, the board in June asked state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to render a legal opinion on the issue. He still has not complied with the request.

“It is important to remember that OpenBand was the one who allowed their franchise to lapse. OpenBand refused to negotiate with their customer(s) or the County and their actions resulted in the County using their sound [judgment] to deny their OVS application. The HOA’s main focus has and will continue to be our residents; who want to receive quality video service at a competitive rate,” said Erika Hodell Cotti, president of the Southerwalk at Broadlands Homeowner’s Association.

The denial of the county franchise agreement means OpenBand can no longer use the public right of way to provide service after June 2013.

OpenBand has the option of transferring its exclusive easement with Van Metre to another company, but under the contract residents of the communities would still have to pay for the service unless the federal courts deem the contracts illegal.

Residents of the communities have overwhelming asked supervisors to deny the county franchise agreement, saying they would rather pay for satellite dish services in addition to the fees they pay for OpenBand.

Comments


I heard Delgaudio woke up in Deans bed this morning.


I cannot believe the absolutely worthless Delgaudio won re-election.


it is madness that Delgaudio will most likely be re-elected to the BoS.
He does not represent his portion of Loudoun County well. Of course, Sterling Park will survive and putter along until the next (next) elections, but imagine if we could start making improvements and building a sense of community here following this Tuesday’s election.
It is MADNESS that the Loudoun Times has endorsed Eugene Delgaudio in his campaign for re-election to the Loudoun County BoS. The paper has not responded to numerous calls to explain their groundless decision, and the even more numerous requests to rescind this poorly thought endorsement.
His recent vote, purchased with MC Dean campaign contributions, should be enough to have his name removed from the ballot on Tuesday.
I wish he would run for the BoS in Fairfax Co.


This is great news, the battle will continue and MC Dean and Openband will lose in the end. I will venture out and vote against all of the pro Openband candidates, and will encourage others to do the same. Corruption will not be tolerated.


I wonder if Walsh Colucci Lubeley Emrich & Walsh represented Van Metre in putting together the Open Band agreements?  You know, the firm Randy Minchew works for.


“I’ll take a PEC candidate over a developer candidate anyway.”

Loudoun Repbulicans are indeed the developer’s choice:

http://www.tooconservative.com/?p=11057


@Leesburg Guy, well I mean if a high-ranking employee of OpenBand were gay, Delgaudio might face a moral quandary.


ALeesburgResident or should I say an OpenBand/McDean employee, I say bring it on. It will be interesting to see Open Band open their books on how much was really spent on the infrastructure in those neighborhoods. By the way if they’re so great then they should do fine competing against Verizon and Comcast. How many customers does Open Band have outside the communities(Van Metre developments) mentioned in the story? Also, curious if Van Metre is still using Open Band in their new developments in Loudoun? I was actually going to vote for Ralph, but not anymore since he received money from OB. OB can’t be trusted.


a south riding fellow - Yes I blame Van Metre, they are the ones who wrote the contract and they own a large chunk of Open Band in case you didn’t know. Toll Brothers used to have a chunk and sold it to VM.

ConfusedInLOTP - Not sure how the cable in the apartments in the Broadlands work but in the rest of the area you are not required to own cable. If you bought a house in one of the neighborhoods this is about your are forced to buy service via your HOA fees. If you want another service you have to still pay for Open Band.

When I was in Alexandria there were 3 cable and all the satellite provider options open to me. Or I could opt not to have any of them.


The problem with Open Band is they cost more than providers like FiOS, the FiOs bundle is $105 and OB is about $150 currently, and OB provides about 1/3rd the HD channels FiOS does, no HD pay per view, no HD on demand, way less on demand content. See why no one is happy with it?

Not to mention some neighborhoods lick up a bigger tab than others.


PEC hit the nail on the head.  I am tired of subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous who have such a controlling influence over certain members of the board like Burton.  He opposes everything except give-aways to his rich friends the 1% ers. More tax revenues from businesses equals lower taxes on my house.


Yeah, “PEC Rocks”.  Vote for the guys propped up by the development industry instead.  Do you enjoy sitting in traffic? 

These “conservatives” will make sure the developers build whatever they want, and then since no one wants to pay for anything, the lack of infrastructure around here will just get worse.

I’ll take a PEC candidate over a developer candidate anyway.  It is about quality of life, you either want a good one or you like traffic and wall to wall development.  Make your pick.


I am not OB customer. While most of you view OB as bad business, how about the developer Van Metre? I think Van Metre is as guilty as OB in setting up the trap.


Maybe the money Burton has received from the PEC and Voters for Loudoun’s Future over 16 years helped make up his mind. Ethically most elected officials would have recused themselves from the vote.

Don’t forget who else is on the take from the PEC and Voters for Loudouon’s Future - Burton, Baldwin, etal…  Vote against them on Tuesday and help to take back our county from the corruption of the radical PEC and Voters for Loudoun’s Future influence.


@ALeesburgResident - So by your logic, even though I love everything else about my neighborhood (the house, layout, community, schools, amenities, location, etc.) I should have not purchased simply because I don’t like the OpenBand contract?  And now that I’m an owner, I should just shut my mouth and accept it?  It has nothing to do with “not paying attention”.  It has everything to do with the pros far outweighing the cons of living here.  If there’s an avenue to remove the one negative thing many of us don’t like, why shouldn’t we do everything possible to do so?


Either these are lies or the BoS is not using facts and expertise.

The County’s independent Cable & OVS Commission, along with its staff and counsel, recommended the approval of the proposed application. This recommendation was rooted in an unprecedented independent technical analysis of OpenBand’s system, which confirmed the quality and state-of-the-art status of the system. In addition, the County’s own research confirmed that OpenBand offers the least expensive cable service in the County and receives fewer trouble tickets per customer than Verizon


So if I move into an apartment complex in Ashburn do I have a choice of cable TV providers?  Maybe this has changed over the years but in my past experience you could either subscribe to the cable company who had laid the cable in your neighborhood or you could get satellite service.  If you answer YES to my apartment question above could I have Comcast (for example) and the apt next to me have FIOS?


“Maybe the $7500 he has received from MC Dean lately helped make up his mind. Ethically most elected officials would have recused themselves from the vote…”

Don’t forget who else is on the take from OpenBand Clarke, Buona, Volpe, etal.  Vote against them on Monday and help to take back our county from the corruptionj of OpenBand’s influence.


ALeesburgResident

There was no way of knowing what terrible service we were going to get. Also what about a free market? If the service is bad I should be able to get a different service.

Also there is the whole illegal monopoly angle that will come out in the federal case the HOAs have against them. OB is partnered with the home builders, the home builders wrote that exclusive contract. Not legal in America.

This is why Open Band is going to loose it all in the end no matter how much money they spread around as lobbyists.


@ALeesburgResident,

Then stop reading the articles if you don’t want to hear about it!  When I bought my house I had no way of knowing how terrible the service Openband provided was!  Before buying my house was I supposed to say I want to see how my TV picture will look, and I need to speak to customer service. Did you check all of those things before you purchased or rented your home?? They provide TERRIBLE service!  Had they provided a good service this would not be an issue!!!  But they do not! If these stories about OpenBand and the rights of the homeowners make you sick my suggestion would be to not read or comment on them!


I am getting tired of people complaining about something that they did not pay attention to when they bought their house.


Chris

They are full of crap anyway. The first meetings I went to and spoke at we laid out a long list of grievances in service against OB and many of them were part of the service contract. Many are still not resolved and thus they did not hold up their end of the contract and that is why they lost.

They think they are playing ball by fixing 10% of the issues and that should give them more time but they have made their customers so angry that they universally are calling on the local government to do something about this and they did and now OB is mad they can no longer screw us over.


“...there was no objective,non-political basis for the Board of Supervisors’ action.”  Funny how OB is opposed to politics factoring into a decision when the decision goes against the company, but it has no problem with making political contributions itself.  A little hypocritical?


Tom - AMC HD and several other HD stations have been that way for months. Drives me nuts, the Walking Dead is the only show I am forced to watch in non HD.


Politics are corrupt. Deans contributions are called lobbying…. happens all the time….  I think it’s the reason a lot of people are apathetic to politics these days. 

However, I do thanks those that work hard to try to cut down on the waste of our tax dollars.  As annoying as some of them are, I know they do truly believe in their causes (even if I don’t share their opinions!)


Oh and in conjunction with my post below.  I’m still having to pay for these services even when they don’t work.  OpenBand is just raking it in and is under no pressure at all to get things fixed.  That’s why competition is necessary and also why it’s a bad idea to have to pay for TV service through HoA dues; you can’t say no.


Thank God, OpenBand’s TV service is awful.  When I first moved to my home in Southern Walk in 2008, the High-Def FX channel played audio in both english and spanish at the same time.  When I called and asked them to fix it, they said they were working in it.  It was 6-7 months later before it was actually fixed.  At present, I don’t get AMC HD anymore either, it just says it’s “Temporarily Unavailable.”  I don’t know when this started, but I’ve been home for a month and it’s been at least that long.

OpenBand, you would have been fine if you would have stopped being such a miser about your TV service in comparison to the rest of the country!


This article says OpenBand has to keep operating video service until June 2013.  I saw another article that said June 2012.  Which one is correct?  Also, what is the penalty if OB continues operating past that time?  In any case, this is great news!


Suck it Open Band! I was at several of those meetings to talk against your crap and expensive service. Cannot wait until Southern Walk kills you in court and we are free of you.


@ Shawn in Leesburg’s comment “What if one of OpenBand’s high-ranking employees were gay?”

Are you looking for his home phone number or something?


Maybe the LTM, partly owned by Bill Dean, should do an article on the ridiculous amount of money that Dean’s companies and executives are throwing into this election.  But nah, instead they just go and endorse almost every single one of the Dean money recipients.


It’s interesting that Delgaudio was the only one to vote against denying the franchise. Maybe the $7500 he has received from MC Dean lately helped make up his mind. Ethically most elected officials would have recused themselves from the vote, but we all knew that wouldn’t happen since Delgaudio never signed the ethics pledge (he was the only Supervisor not to sign it).


What if one of OpenBand’s high-ranking employees were gay?


I guess OpenBand gets their money’s worth with Eugene Delgaudio.  Bigoted and corrupt, a combination typically frowned upon by voters.  Maybe Sterling deserves all its problems, clearly its residents don’t think very well.


This is a great news. Sometimes I felt that OpenBand was trying really hard to frustrate customers. They surely deserved it.


Open Band could solve their problem tomorrow by agreeing to allow open and fair competition for the service (?)  they provide.  Allow Verizon, Comcast, RCN, whomever to access these neighborhoods.  Open Band refuses. That says a lot about the unfair, one-sided agreements that Open Band “negotiated” with their developer pals.


Do any of you guys want a company doing business in Loudoun County to tell you that you are NOT allowed to have the ability to decide for yourself or to have the choice of providers? For OpenBand to sue the county is ridiculous. They want their way or its the highway. Let’s not allow any anti-competitive company to do business in Loudoun. If they want to do business without competition, let them stake out the moon to do that for all we care.


The current Board of Supervisors just denied giving OpenBand a franchise agreement; however, this story is not over as OpenBand will likely file suit against Loudoun County and this problem will likely be handed off to the next BoS. The vote on November 8th will decide who will be on the next BoS to decide these issues. MC Dean, OpenBand and others associated with OpenBand have contributed heavily to the campaigns of Volpe, Delgaudio, Buona, Clarke, and Letourneau. Ms. Volpe, for example, has accepted what amounts to almost 10% of her campaign contributions from OpenBand sources. Note also that the Loudoun Times Mirror, partially owned by MC Dean, gave Volpe, Delgaudio and Letourneau their endorsement. At a minimum, there is the appearance of MC Dean and OpenBand buying favorable votes from potentially five members of the next Board of Supervisors. This whole story stinks like garbage a day after a fish fry. By accepting those contributions, is this the kind of leadership the people in Loudoun deserve from those who may be their next supervisors?


From the reporter:

That was a typo. In a rush to get the story online fast, it was overlooked. It has been corrected. Thank you from bringing it to my attention.

Crystal Owens


“...in spite of the overwhelming sediment…”

Please tell me that that is a journalist typo, and that Delgaudio knows that should be SENTIMENT.

Maybe the biggest problem with this county could be the lack of a basic common sense and a basic education among the LC Pols.


Eugene Delgaudio disagrees with you Robin. He’s the only vote on the Board for OpenBand—who happens to be donating to his campaign by the thousands of dollars.


legal fees or not, a person should be able to decide for himself what companies he wants to deal with. These exclusive rights things don’t belong in a free country.


Ok, now the fun begins!  Get ready Loudoun County Taxpayers.  We will be the ones that pay the county’s legal fees.

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