The Cable Administration Office, within the Department of Technology Services, provides oversight and administration of the cable television franchise certificates with Verizon and Comcast. The Cable Administrator administers the relationship between the Cable TV providers and Arlington County in accordance with their franchise agreements.
Responsibilities include ensuring that the cable providers meet the requirements and financial obligations stated in the franchise agreements and monitoring and regulation of the cable TV provider customer service standards. The Cable Administration Office is also responsible for responding to inquiries and complaints about cable service.
Arlington County policy provides for the adequate, economical, and efficient delivery of cable service to subscribers, and seeks to protect subscribers from poor services and unfair competition, so a cable TV service should be:
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cable television service in Arlington:
Verizon has completed the first two of three phases of installation (described below). The service map depicts the general areas of Arlington to receive Verizon Cable TV service in the phases described.
Initial Arlington exchanges, in the 703 Area Code illustrated in the Service Map, already received Verizon Cable TV service, as of June 30, 2006.
Verizon has been building out to additional Arlington exchanges, in the 703 Area Code, since June 30, 2006.
The remainder of Arlington Exchanges are required to have service available no later than June 30, 2016.
Much of the regulation of cable companies is done at the federal government and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) levels. FCC guidelines give Arlington County the authority to regulate the rate for Basic service, the lowest available level of service, when there is no competition. Currently the rates for cable service are not regulated, as the FCC has determined that the two companies of Verizon and Comcast provide a competitive environment. For this reason, the cable companies may charge what they feel the cable-buying market will pay. The FCC Cable TV Fact Sheet has additional information regarding the role of local government in the regulation of cable rates.
FCC regulations state that Basic service must contain local broadcast stations and public-education-government channels. Any additional channels are at the sole discretion of the cable company. Except for mandating broad categories of programming, i.e. family, multi-cultural, home shopping, public, educational and government, etc., Arlington County has no jurisdiction over what channels are carried on the Comcast system. Subscribers who wish to suggest other channels should send written notification to Comcast or Verizon addressed to the General Manager.
With utilities like electricity and water, monthly charges are based on usage and fees and are calculated at the end of a billing cycle. However, like telephone service, cable TV service has a standard basic monthly charge, usually billed a month in advance.
Under legislation enacted by the 2006 General Assembly, House Bill 568, the Virginia communications sales and use tax, also referred to as the Communications Sales tax, replaced most of the previous state and local taxes and fees on communications services, effective January 1, 2007. This tax replaced all “franchise fees” previously paid by cable TV service companies in Virginia.
The County no longer receives Franchise Fees directly from the companies.
As a cable TV subscriber in Arlington, you have a right to:
|1. Appeal to the County Cable Administrator for assistance, after contacting the cable company without satisfaction.|
|2. A clear procedure from the cable company for resolving complaints.|
|3. Service calls, installations, and disconnects during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to|
8:00 p.m. with a company’s best efforts to complete service calls within three (3) days from the date of the initial request, and new installations with seven (7) business days of the request.
|4. Telephone answering time of less than thirty (30) seconds, with an additional thirty (30) seconds maximum time to transfer the call to a customer service representative.|
|5. A specific time for a service calls within a time block equal to or less than four (4) hours in length.|
|6. An appointment scheduled at a specific time between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00|
p.m., seven (7) days a week, convenient to you, if the technician does not meet a previously scheduled time.
|7. Pickup and/or replacement of converters or other equipment at your request at your address by the cable service company if you are “mobility-limited.”|
8. The following materials, once every twelve (12) months:
|9. A least thirty (30) days prior notice of any significant changes in the information listed above, in writing and by announcement on the system.|
|10. Promotional materials, announcements, and advertising of cable service including price information with clearly and accurately disclosed price terms.|
|11. A minimum of forty-eight (48) hours prior notice of anticipated service interruptions.|
|12. Credit on your next bill of an amount equal to 1/30 of the monthly charge for loss of service for more than eight (8) hours in any 24-hour period, other than a planned interruption.|
|13. A telephone contact number for service or billing problems clearly displayed on your monthly bill.|
|14. A billing statement that is clear, concise and understandable.|
|15. An initial response or acknowledgment to your written billing complaints within five (5) days of receipt of the complaint, and a final written response within thirty (30) days of receipt of your complaint.|
|16. Refund checks and service credit issued to you no later than the next billing cycle|
|17. Termination of service at any time, and to downgrade service without charge unless a service call is required.|
|18. Return disconnected equipment within five (5) business days of disconnection without charge.|
|19. Cable service without disconnection until after forty-five (45) days from the due date of unpaid monthly subscriber fee or charges, plus at least another ten (10) days after written notice of intent to disconnect, unless the cable company’s system or equipment is being damaged or destroyed, or you are not authorized to receive the service.|
|20. Safe streets and walkways free of cable company wires or equipment interfering with their use.|
If subscribers have questions or problems with cable service, they should first contact the cable company to resolve the issue.
Direct inquiries for Comcast to:
Attn: Customer Service
8110 Corporate Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21236
For Verizon problems or questions:
Verizon Customer Relations
8149 Walnut Grove
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
Customers are advised not to mail any correspondence with their payment, since payments are processed at a separate address.
If subscribers are unable to settle the dispute with the cable company, or if they have additional questions, they may contact the Cable Administration Office:
Cable Administration Office
Department of Technology Services
2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 612
Arlington, VA 22201
Also, subscribers may complete the Online Cable Complaint Form
The County Board has also commissioned an advisory group to advise them about cable services in Arlington. The Information Technology Advisory Commission (ITAC) is a group of Arlington citizens appointed by the County Board to provide oversight of various technology issues, including the cable system and make recommendations to improve service. ITAC meetings are open to the public and are usually held the 4th Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Court House Plaza, 3rd Floor Conference Room 311, next to the Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201.
For more information about cable policy and issues in Arlington County, please visit the ITAC webpage.
Cable Administration Office
2100 Clarendon Blvd. #610
Arlington, VA 22201
Rob Billingsley, Cable Administrator