[Note: This item comes from friend Steve Goldstein. DLH]
Comcast accused of cutting competitor’s wires to put it out of business
Comcast “systematically destroyed” an ISP with 229 customers, lawsuit claims.
By Jon Brodkin
Jun 22 2017
A tiny Internet service provider has sued Comcast, alleging that the cable giant and its hired contractors cut the smaller company’s wires in order to take over its customer base.
Telecom Cable LLC had “229 satisfied customers” in Weston Lakes and Corrigan, Texas when Comcast and its contractors sabotaged its network, the lawsuit filed last week in Harris County District Court said.
Comcast had tried to buy Telecom Cable’s Weston Lakes operations in 2013 “but refused to pay what they were worth,” the complaint says. Starting in June 2015, Comcast and two contractors it hired “systematically destroyed Telecom’s business by cutting its lines and running off its customers,” the lawsuit says. Comcast destroyed or damaged the lines serving all Telecom Cable customers in Weston Lakes and never repaired them, the lawsuit claims.
Telecom Cable owner Anthony Luna estimated the value of his business at about $1.8 million, which he is seeking to recover. He is also seeking other damages from Comcast and its contractors, including exemplary damages that under state statute could “amount to a maximum of twice the amount of economic damages, plus up to $750,000 of non-economic damages,” the complaint says.
CourtHouse News Service has a story about the lawsuit, and it posted a copy of the complaint.
“We disagree with Telecom’s claim and will vigorously defend ourselves,” Comcast VP Ray Purser said in a statement provided to Ars. Comcast did not offer any further response to the allegations, and has not yet filed an official answer to Luna’s complaint.
A “severed mainline cable”
Luna says he did not oppose Comcast’s entry into Weston Lakes. Before Comcast began construction, Telecom Cable “made special efforts to mark its lines and equipment to prevent any inadvertent damage. Using an RF modulated transmitter and inductive connection to the cable, Mr. Luna located Telecom’s underground lines and marked the lines with industry-standard orange paint, as well as ‘buried cable ﬂags’ for prompt and easy identiﬁcation,” the complaint says. “Mr. Luna also mailed a map of Telecom’s system to the Director of Construction at Comcast’s Tidwell ofﬁce.”
But then Luna was notified of service outages and “rushed to the job site” where he “found his severed mainline cable” along with Comcast contractors who were installing their own cable, the complaint says.
“The foreman acknowledged that Telecom’s cables had been marked—freshly marked, in fact—but the crew had inexplicably ignored the markings, purportedly because they assumed that the fresh orange paint marked an ‘abandoned’ cable plant,” the complaint says.