Comcast showcases itself in Island event
Comcast inundated one of the Harbor View Hotel's classic conference rooms Tuesday with an impressive spread of chic plasma televisions and flat screen computers to showcase its wide range of services. Selectmen and Island officials mingled with Comcast public relations representatives and management officials during the afternoon luncheon, from which guests left with a gift bag swollen with popcorn and biscotti.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. closed a deal last July in which Comcast gained control of certain Adelphia Communications franchises, including the one on Martha's Vineyard, which has approximately 9,000 subscribers.
Comcast started to implement their cable and Internet services in November.
Spokesperson Marc Goodman ushered attendants to various displays, where waiting Comcast agents were ready to promote their service. An oversized television gave a clear picture of Comcast's On Demand service, which allows digital cable subscribers the opportunity to choose from hundreds of movies and TV shows, and watch them at any time for up to 24 hours.
There was a demo of Comcast's high-speed Internet service, where subscribers can do everything from assemble photo albums and check e-mail and voicemail from the homepage. Another display showcased the company's digital video recorder, which allows users to record, pause, and rewind live TV.
The one Comcast service not featured was Digital Voice, the company's telephone service. Officials were vague, but said the service would be available to Islanders soon. When Digital Voice is offered, subscribers will then have the opportunity to utilize the "bundling" service, which provides the cable, Internet and phone bill all in one. Mr. Goodman said the introductory rate is $33 for each service per month, for the first 12 months.
As the presentations were winding down and attendees were hankering for the provided meal, Comcast regional vice president Tom Coughlin and area vice president Zakee Rashid expressed their excitement to work with the Vineyard, and mentioned a few community service initiatives they will be participating in, including a beach cleanup in Edgartown on an upcoming Earth Day. They also mentioned projects with the YMCA and Martha's Vineyard Donors Collaborative (MVDC).
Peter Temple, executive director of the MVDC, said in a telephone conversation yesterday that Comcast has donated money to help them produce a short film that will be presented to seasonal residents, encouraging them to donate to Island nonprofit organizations. He is also a Comcast cable and Internet subscriber.
"There wasn't that much there that I didn't know about. Although I did learn about the downloading boost," Mr. Temple said, referring to Comcast's Powerboost, which doubles the speed of Internet downloads.
"Maybe it's just compared to Adelphia, but they seem very different than your stereotypical cable company," Mr. Temple said. "I think they seemed honestly interested in reaching out to customers. You think of the stereotypical cable company as wanting your money and not much else." Adelphia served the Island for 11 years.
Edgartown selectman Art Smadbeck said he was impressed that such a large company made the effort to travel to the Island and interact with community members.
"What a refreshing change to have a company like Comcast coming to the island to deliver a service," Mr. Smadbeck said. "Here you have a corporate citizen who has, I felt, gone out of their way to start off on the right foot with great community relations."
Mr. Smadbeck said he is a Comcast subscriber, and while he doesn't personally use the advanced features, his children enjoy On Demand on their television set.
Jeff Kristal, owner of the Crocker House Inn and candidate for Tisbury selectman, said aside from enjoying the brownies and crème brûlée provided for desert, he learned about new products he didn't know existed. "I saw some packaging of the products, I saw what was coming down the pike in a couple of months as far as the phone system," Mr. Kristal said. "I thought they were there to educate everybody and I thought they did a very good job of that."
Mr. Kristal said their participation in community activities is also appealing. "It's encouraging to see somebody new come on to the Island and really get what we're trying to do here with all those groups, and be willing to participate and donate."