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Comcast buys 2 small municipal internet businesses in Massachusetts

Linda Hardesty Dec 2, 2021

Today, Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD) — a nonprofit, publicly owned power utility and broadband internet provider — announced it has sold its internet business to Comcast. The sales price was not disclosed. BELD said the deal will have no impact on its electric division.

BELD’s approximately 2,500 internet and phone customers will have their service transferred to Comcast, beginning this year. Comcast has already been an incumbent provider in Braintree for 18 years.

BELD recently conducted a study showing it would need to make a major, multi-million-dollar investment in network infrastructure over the next few years to maintain quality of service. This cost would have required a significant increase in customer rates.

“The broadband market has always been competitive, and the pandemic added further uncertainty. This sale will ensure our internet customers can count on reliable, robust service over the long term while we uphold BELD’s responsibility to the Braintree taxpayer community,” said Bill Bottiggi, BELD’s general manager, in a statement. “After evaluating our options, we are confident the best decision is to connect our residential and business customers with Comcast’s best-in-class network, products, services and customer experience.”

The decision to sell its internet business comes two years after BELD discontinued cable television service, citing high programming costs, loss of customers to streaming services and the need to invest in equipment upgrades, according to The Patriot Ledger. BELD was down to 2,100 cable customers when it dropped the TV service.

Comcast buys Russell Cable

Earlier this week, Comcast also announced it was buying Russell Municipal Cable TV in Springfield, Massachusetts. The city of Russell (population 1,800) has owned and operated the service since 1988. Terms of the deal with Comcast were not revealed.

Comcast plans to transition residents and businesses to its Xfinity and Comcast Business suite of services through the end of the year.

It will offer its complete portfolio of Xfinity services, including Xfinity Internet, its X1 platform for video service, Xfinity Home security and automation services, Xfinity Voice and Xfinity Mobile.