Comcast Won't Foot Bill to Wire Fitchburg Airport

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Providing high-speed Internet to the city's airport may prove difficult, as Comcast representatives told city councilors on Tuesday that they have no obligation to do so and won't invest the money for the project upfront.

John Fouhy, director of government and community relations for Comcast's Northern New England division, told councilors "we're not obligated to provide" cable and high-speed Internet to the airport because it's not located along the company's already existing cable system.

He said the whole project would cost about $65,000, of which Comcast would be willing to pay $23,000. The rest would have to come from new business subscribers along Airport Road.

Several councilors asked if Comcast would consider completing the project with its own money, in anticipation of future commercial development around the airport. Ward 3 Councilor Joel R. Kaddy pointed to a planned runway redesign that could attract more business.

"I think if the runway is lengthened, there's more potential for development and you're a key to that success," he told Fouhy during the council's meeting at City Hall on Tuesday evening. "I just don't think it's all about the money in this one. You're providing a service to the city."

But Fouhy told councilors Comcast doesn't want to move forward without having some commitments from neighborhood businesses.

"We need to project or forecast what return we'll get," he said. "We don't just build on the hope that we'll get this."

The airport wants to improve its Internet connection and cable TV service for its municipal offices and restaurant there, according to Bob Boutwell, vice chairman of the airport commission.

Councilors decided they would explore obtaining federal Department of Homeland Security grants, or reducing the cost by attaching to Leominster's system.

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