Working to clean up and restore the island following Tropical Storm Irma, KICA staff has heard and seen a number of comments about the restoration of Internet and cable service. Members who have service with Comcast are encouraged to contact KICA’s livability director, Ed Monahan, at 843-708-3611 if they are having service issues that aren’t being resolved.
Several years ago, KICA learned that Comcast did not have a right-of-access agreement with the association to operate on Kiawah. (Their equipment is located on and in KICA rights-of-way, and in order to remain there, they needed permission.) Armed with this information, KICA had leverage and the opportunity to seek proposals from various competitors to determine whether better options were available to our community. Comcast was invited to submit a proposal. (As an aside, AT&T did receive an easement over KICA rights-of-way at the onset of development, as the ability to connect a property to the 911 system is prerequisite for development activity.)
KICA talked to several competitors who were willing to provide services on the island, but they wanted exclusive bulk cable and internet contracts. Some members who have lived in condos or apartments may be familiar with this type of arrangement. The provider gives a below market rate, but everyone is required to subscribe, and everyone gets the same service. Comcast made several offers, including a very attractive bulk contract. However, we wanted no part of determining which option was best for each of our individual members, whose needs and desires are diverse.
Instead of a bulk contract, KICA negotiated an agreement with Comcast that provides several key components. First, both parties agreed to some minimal service standards. Some simple but annoying things are no longer allowed, like temporary cable being left above ground for an extended period of time. Service calls are handled within an agreed upon time frame. Most importantly, KICA required a dedicated account representative who could be personally responsible for troubleshooting service issues that aren’t handled appropriately through normal channels. Comcast is the only one contractually obligated to KICA. This Comcast representative interacts with Ed Monahan on an almost daily basis, and those who’ve tapped Ed as a resource have provided very positive feedback.
In exchange for access to its easements, the community receives compensation. At the original execution, KICA received a lump sum of nearly $1 million and continues to receive compensation on a revenue share formula, which increases based on the number of on-island subscribers. This amount has totaled around $150,000 per year for the last couple of years. These two sources of funds are playing a significant role in the ability to upgrade the Sandcastle without a member assessment.
Members who want to learn more about the services that Comcast provides are encouraged to stop by the XFINITY Experience pop-up in the Sandcastle parking lot on Friday, Sept. 29. A representative will be there to demonstrate XFINITY’s features. There will also be snacks, raffles and giveaways.