From Guest Editor Nicholas Stehle:
I recently learned that Missouri based Fidelity Communications acquired 14 cable systems from Cobridge Communications on January 23rd of this year. The deal has not been widely reported. In fact, the Mayor of Benton (one of 5 affected areas in Arkansas) didn’t seem to realize the transaction had taken place when I spoke with him last week. That’s because Fidelity has been busy working on their network.
Andy Davis, General Manager of Fidelity Communications, was kind enough to speak with me via telephone. The family-owned company has big plans for its markets in Arkansas, including Benton’s neglected cable system.
Davis says the company sees these added cable markets as a big opportunity and looks forward to expanding available services in the area.
Just what do Davis and his company have planned? DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades, additional bandwidth purchases and whole-home DVR service seem to be the beginning. Fidelity hopes to offer 50 Mbps Internet access sometime this year in my hometown of Benton. Fidelity does not intend to “cherry-pick” only the most profitable areas as many telcos and cable carriers do, according to Davis. Editor’s note: AT&T provides their Uverse service to only some parts of the city. I can confirm that my neighborhood is not eligible for Uverse. Phone calls and emails to AT&T regarding this issue were not returned.
Davis indicated that the company is more focused on fixing service issues and expanding the suite of services than on rebranding – a generally good idea given the inherited state of the cable system.
Fidelity Communications has an A+ rating and is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. The outgoing cable company had an F- rating. Needless to say, this is a tremendous improvement.
Affected Arkansas markets include Beebe, Maumelle, Shannon Hills/Benton, Hardy and Pulaski County.
I will update this blog as things progress.