No longer just Comcast: Minneapolis will get CenturyLink cable TV service

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The number of cable TV providers available in Minneapolis will soon double – from one to two.

CenturyLink was given the go-ahead by the City Council Friday to make its PrismTV service available in at least 15 percent of the city's homes, WCCO reports.

Currently, Comcast is the only cable TV option in the city (though there are satellite options, such as DirecTV and DISH Network), and the CenturyLink approval means it suddenly has a direct competitor.

The Ways and Means Committee recommended CenturyLink's proposal be passed, saying the city should promote competition within the cable TV market to spur higher quality service and keep prices low through competition.

KSTP says Comcast has "dominated" the Minneapolis market for about four decades. Council member Andrew Sharp said at the meeting he hopes this could open the door for other cable companies to get into the city as well.

What CenturyLink is offering

Last month, when the deal was nearing its final stages, MPR spoke with a Comcast spokesperson who said the agreement was concerning. CenturyLink wouldn't be required to provide coverage to the whole city initially, which Comcast said could violate state requirements.

City Council member John Quincy, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, told MPR they built in protections in case Comcast wants to go to court over the deal.

While CenturyLink's initial rollout will only cover 15 percent of homes over the next two years touching all 13 wards, that number would be required to expand that if a certain number of people sign up for the service starting as early as 2016, according to a draft of the proposal outlines.

CenturyLink has also committed to having a customer service office in the city (which Comcast does not have), providing a wider range of service to government buildings than Comcast, and says it can offer more channels and video on demand programming.

FierceTelecom says CenturyLink is aggressively pursuing entry into other markets around the U.S.

The prices and exact date service will start haven't been decided, but WCCO says it's expected to launch in June.

You can see some of CenturyLink's advertised features here, including access to apps, ward-speed channel change, a single DVR that can record multiple shows at once, and more.

What about Internet?

CenturyLink is also currently rolling out a fiber-optic network in the Twin Cities to offer 1 Gbps Internet service.

CenturyLink said its 1 Gbps service is about 10 times faster than Comcast’s fastest residential-broadband service (105 megabit per second), which debuted in the metro area last year.

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