Florida county seeks competition to cable incumbent Comcast

Collier County, Fla. commissioners are tired of being a one-MSO county and are looking for ways to attract competition for Comcast, including using a 2007 state law that allows cable competitors to pick and choose where they provide service. Comcast currently dominates the county's wireline homes.

Commissioner Tom Henning said he spoke with a resident who also has a home in Portland, Ore. where Verizon is providing FiOS service and where prices are lower because of the competition. "What can we do to actively pursue competition in Collier County?" Henning asked.

The answer might lie in a 2007 law that changed how service providers built out their networks. Before the law, anyone with an exclusive agreement needed to serve an entire community. After the law, competitors were encouraged to come in and essentially cherrypick the best sites to get a quicker return on their investment.

That incentive, combined with a down economy that has lowered construction and material prices, could mean "there may be any number of companies out there willing to make that investment right now. I think it would be a prime opportunity," said Jamie French, the county's director of regulatory management and the spearhead for the competition report.

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