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Decatur City Council ends 3-year battle with Charter Communications

By Evan Belanger
evanb@decaturdaily.com · 340-2442

A three-year-old legal battle between the city and cable giant Charter Communications has ended.

On Monday, the Decatur City Council unanimously approved a measure repealing the
city’s 1988 telecommunications code, which governed all cable and telephone providers in the city.

The action was part of a legal settlement between Charter and Decatur. It officially ended
the city’s 2004 lawsuit against Charter, which alleged the
cable provider committed hundreds of safety violations and failed to provide promised services.

But after three years in court, the two parties appear to have settled their differences. Charter agreed to correct problems mentioned in the lawsuit and to provide the city with a fiber-optic communications network in return for repealing the old ordinance, which was passed before its Internet service became popular.

Both sides said the settlement was a successful conclusion to three years in court.

“We’re pleased with the fact that it allows both of us to move forward and focus solely on delivering services for our customers and also to add services for our customers,” said Don Karell, Charter’s vice president and general manager for Alabama.

Mayor Don Kyle said the new network will improve communications between city departments and provide high-speed Internet at 29 city buildings.

“This system should give us, as a city, almost unlimited capabilities in the future as electronic information, data processing and data communication grow and grow,” he said.

During Monday’s meeting, District 3 City Councilman Gary Hammon, who works as a full-time electrical contractor, described the old ordinance as antiquated and in need of replacement.

“We had a 99-page ordinance that no one in Decatur could understand,” he said. “So I’m proud to have it gone.”

In place of the 1988 ordinance, the city will rely on the
National Electric Code and the National Electrical Safety Code, said City Attorney Herman Marks.

The codes have been implemented as the standard by municipal and state governments across the nation.

The council officially accepted the settlement with Charter earlier this month.

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