LEWISTON — Oxford Networks is getting out of its own cable business and into DIRECTV.

On Tuesday, the local company started enticing existing customers to DIRECTV by pointing to products it hadn’t been able to offer, namely high-definition channels and digital video recording. The pitch was delivered to customers’ mailboxes via a black tote that can be draped over an armchair and holds TV remotes.

Company President and CEO Craig Gunderson said customers had been asking for more services they couldn’t currently deliver. For the past year the company’s been researching and vetting others to partner with, he said.

Oxford Networks has nearly 400 existing cable customers in Lewiston and Auburn. It’ll stop its own cable service in late January. That had been slowly losing customers, spokeswoman Julia Munsey said.

The company could have upgraded to HD but, “it’s cost-prohibitive to do
so,” said Director of Marketing & Customer Service Matthew Jancovic. Oxford could have spent millions of dollars and
still not have been able to offer as much as DIRECTV, he said.

The company’s first goal, he said, was to move existing customers over between now and January. Service requires a satellite dish and installation. Oxford Network’s cable package with about 130 channels costs $65 a
month. Outside of promotional periods, DIRECTV’s “choice” option, with over 150 channels, costs $55.99
a month. HDTV can be added for $10, DVR service for $6, plus the cost of any extra equipment.

Time Warner Cable, which also covers Lewiston-Auburn, had a promotion on its Web site Tuesday for 150 channels at $49.95 a month for a year, with three months of free DVR.

Unlike getting cable through Oxford
Networks now, DIRECTV requires a two-year commitment, Jancovic said,
with fees for early termination. If customers do order DIRECTV though Oxford Networks, they’ll pay its advertised rates and have access to Oxford Networks’ bundled pricing for phone and Internet, Jancovic said. Existing customers getting a package of all three — DIRECTV, phone and Internet — could save up to $40 over what they’re paying for all three now, he said. The new cable bill, though, will come through DIRECTV.

Oxford Networks’ cable market had grown slowly for them, Gunderson said. Its fiber optics pass 5,500 structures in Lewiston and Auburn, all potential customers. He said the change would not affect franchise agreements in either city.

Oxford Networks got its start in 1900 as a small regional phone company. It began marketing cable TV in the Twin Cities in 2004.

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