City Council approved a new 15-year franchise agreement between the city and Comcast on Thursday, giving the telecommunications giant the legal right to operate in the city while securing a package of perks for Philadelphians including an expanded discount program for low income seniors.
The bill will now be sent to Mayor Nutter for his signature.
In a statement, Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David L. Cohen praised the unanimous vote by Council.
"This overall arrangement honors the legacy of civic responsibility and pride that Comcast has always brought to Philadelphia, and underscores our passion to help close the digital divide for Philadelphians through our nationally acclaimed Internet Essentials program," he said.
Under the agreement, the city will continue to receive 5 percent of Comcast's cable-TV revenue in the city, what added up to $17.5 million last year.
Comcast has also pledged to launch any future expansion of the Internet Essentials program in Philadelphia first; install a new high-speed network at more than 200 city locations; and give $20 million to public, government and educational access channels.
At least one member voted for the deal despite lingering concerns. Councilwoman Cindy Bass said on the Council floor Thursday that she was not in support of the city's plan to cover the costs, to a tune of $170,000 per year, of an expansion of the Internet Essentials discount program. That program is only open to those who have not had internet service for 90 days. The city's subsidy would allow those currently ineligible for that reason alone to enroll.
Though that subsidy plan is part of the deal approved Thursday, Bass said "there is still room for [Comcast] to make this ... right" and cover the cost itself.
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