MINOT – The committee looking into renewing the town’s cable television contract is hoping a strong turnout at Wednesday night’s public hearing will help convince Time Warner Cable officials to expand services in town.

The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 1 at the town office, and Mike Edgecomb, Time Warner’s head of governmental affairs for this area, will be present.

“That may be April Fool’s Day, but it’s no joke,” William Perry said at a committee workshop this week.

The committee had unearthed some disturbing statistics that indicate Minot isn’t sufficiently “electronically connected” and cable connections, with attendant high-speed Internet connections, haven’t kept up with the town’s growth.

In 1989, Minot’s population was 1,631, today it is estimated to be 2,866.

There have been 412 new houses built in the last 10 years and the total number of properties in town is about 1,200.

Yet today, Time Warner has only 278 subscribers, a number which is down about 50 from what it was a few years ago.

Attempting to answer the question to what’s going on, the committee took note that there is no service in the north end of town, a major growth area.

The Brighton Hill Road corridor alone has more than 80 houses, many of them built in the last 10 years, and no service.

The committee has identified four other pockets that, while close to the existing grid, remain unserved.

“The town needs to be modernized,” Patrick Coffin said. “Having cable is great, but it is access to reliable high-speed Internet that is much more important.”

Selectman Steve French noted that the existing limited system creates a “haves” and “have nots” among students at the Minot Consolidated School.

“When kids who take their laptops home have to rely on dial-up, which is just so, so slow, to do their homework, it’s a real problem,” French said.

Perry sees a new contract with Time Warner as an opportunity to devise a plan to expand service to benefit residents and Time Warner. The current contract expires in December.

“We’ll need a good turnout at the public hearing to convince Time Warner we’re serious,” Perry said.

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