Comcast allegedly cut a smaller ISP's cables to sabotage its business

Image Credit: Comcast

Anthony Luna - the owner of Telecom Cable LLC, a small scale ISP operating in the state of Texas - has accused what is now the second largest cable company in the US of intentionally destroying his network, thereby rendering him unable to provide service to his customers and eventually resulting in the shuttering of his business.

The plaintiff alleges that as of June 15, 2015, his company had 229 customers and that in a span of only one and a half months, he had lost all of his customers due to the actions of Comcast.

As is explained in the court filing, Telecom Cable had operated in the region for almost eight years before Comcast decided to also lay down its own network. When Luna learned of Comcast's intention to install its own cable network in the same easements as his own, he made the conscientious effort of clearly demarcating his own lines in order to prevent damage.

However, when Comcast began installing its network - via Aspen Utility Company and A&A Cable Contractors - he suddenly starting receiving complaints of network outages. Attempting repairs, he soon found out that the workers on-site had cut his cables, with the explanation provided by an A&A foreman that the workers had misunderstood the bright orange paint as being designated to identify lines from an 'abandoned cable plant'.

Although Luna was instructed by the A&A foreman to contact Comcast directly, he was not provided any means of contacting the persons in charge, having to resort to the company's normal - and largely bemoaned - customer service number and being unable to find any individuals responsible for these installations.

The suit argues that even if Comcast's explanation is to be believed, it would imply gross negligence on the company's part, as three more cables were cut even after Luna had communicated his issues to the foreman. In six weeks, service to his entire base was cut off and he lost his business as a result - most of his customers are now believed to have gone to Comcast.

Luna's filing further implies malfeasance on Comcast's part as he believes this was a result of failed negotiations between his company and Comcast, which had tried to buy him out in 2013 and ultimately refused to meet his asking price. He also refers to providing Comcast a map of his entire network during those 2013 negotiations and, more recently, when he learned of the company's intent to branch out to his region, which he believes should have prevented any misunderstandings.

He also draws attentions toward the personal and financial cost to his family as a result of the loss of his business, causing him to upend his family, move 1500 miles across the country and resulting in his wife having to resign a permanent teaching position for a lesser paying substitute listing in upstate New York.

For their part, Comcast claimed the company had not engaged in any wrongdoing and issued the following statement: “We disagree with Telecom’s claim and will vigorously defend ourselves.”

The strength of Luna's case will ultimately depend on his effort to clearly mark his network and whether he abided by Texas Utilities Code.

Source: Courthouse News via Gizmodo

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