Jerry Andree, Township Manager

No level of government has more impact on daily life than local government. That’s why my colleagues and I at Cranberry Township are passionate about pushing the limits of excellence to provide the best possible services to our residents and customers. However, being well-served is not a passive achievement; it is a collective undertaking. Through this blog, we offer our personal reflections on that assignment. And we hope it will help engage you in joining us on that same collaborative mission.

Jan 08

[ARCHIVED] What do cable service and the Loch Ness Monster have in common?

The original item was published from October 22, 2019 11:15 AM to January 8, 2021 9:28 AM

A good hoax never dies.  Colorful urban myths and dark political conspiracies are as American as pizza pie.  They just keep getting repeated, and sometimes embellished, as they pass from person to person, frequently with help from the Internet.  

One of those evergreen myths concerns Cranberry.  You must have heard the one about how Cranberry, for some dark, sinister reason, has conspired to block Verizon, AT&T, Time-Warner and others from providing cable service to Township residents.  It’s a doozy, and it’s managed to keep coming back in one form or another throughout my 27 years in Cranberry.  

The only problem is that there’s no truth to it.  The fact is that Cranberry welcomes companies that want to invest in communication infrastructure here.  And in the realm of commercial customers, that’s already happening.  Comcast has been laying fiber optic cable and investing in broadband internet service to businesses in each of the Township’s major business parks.  So has DQE Communications, a unit of Duquesne Light.  

Providing internet service to companies is an attractive business proposition; they typically include a lot of employees in a compact space, so wiring them up costs less per user.  And they’re able to offer pricey specialized services that ordinary consumers would have no use for.  

Residential service is a different story.  For one thing, it’s expensive.  Each customer must have a cable physically installed, usually through an underground trench, one home at a time.  No newly arrived company is going to want to build its own network alongside one already in place; the economics just don’t work.  

Another issue is that cable television is in decline; more and more people are choosing to be “cable cutters,” opting instead to watch video services streaming over the internet.  Although cable companies today also provide landline phone service, conventional phones are also in decline.  Just about everyone carries a cell phone today.  And most people don’t want to buy the cable company’s home security service.  So that leaves internet as the only really high value service a cable company can offer.  

But there’s also a bright spot on the horizon: it’s 5G technology, which is wireless, but with far greater capacity than regular cell service – so much so that it could rival and eventually even replace much of what cable companies offer today.  Cranberry has streamlined its regulations concerning rights-of-way usage and transmitter placement in anticipation of that technology coming in.  And we’re working closely with the 5G Coalition to make sure we’re ready to take advantage of that service as soon as it’s available. 

In the meantime, you are welcome to call any cable or wireless provider you want and encourage them to come into Cranberry.  We won’t stand in their way.  In fact, we love new technology and we welcome new investment.  If they tell you the Township doesn’t want to let them in, have them call or email me:  I’ll be glad to straighten them out.