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CABLE TV FIRM TO INSTALL A FIBER-OPTIC LINE

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Insight Cablevision, the cable TV company that services the area, admits it has lagged behind new growth in Syracuse and has also been plagued by outages. But the company believes its quality and quantity of service is now on the upswing.

Clinton Scott, area manager for Insight, said the company is planning to rebuild its system by adding a fiber-optic cable line during 1997.He said fiber optics means the company will be able to add many new channels to its system - like Pay Per View - as well as significantly decrease outages by having to rely less on signal boosting equipment.

Scott addressed the City Council recently because the company's 15-year franchise agreement is nearing its expiration and the city is drafting a new agreement.

City Manager Mike Moyes said the contract is not exclusive and other cable companies could come into the city if they desired to compete. However, he warned the council about what could happen if it doesn't renew the franchise agreement.

"If we choose not to renew the franchise, there's no cable TV here until someone else comes here and runs new lines in or purchases the old ones."

Scott predicted that despite the costs associated with fiber-optic installation, Insight hopes to keep the consumer costs down and that the competitive climate in the industry will help that effort.

Resident Lynn D. Thorne said while he enjoys being able to watch dozens of sporting events each day, he doesn't like losing service eight to 10 times each year because of storm-caused outages.

Buzz McKenna, a technician for Insight, promised more reliable service with a fiber optic-based system. He also said the fiber-optic line will be encased in concrete in most areas, reducing chances for cuts by underground digging - another frequent reason for the loss of cable service.

Police Chief Brian Wallace said he hopes the cable company can be more careful about keeping its overhead lines from sagging and pulling down electrical lines, an occurrence that cost one Syracuse business hundreds of dollars in extra expenses this year.

"It's been a priority for us," McKenna said.

Several other residents complained because their subdivision has no cable access. Scott said the company has lagged behind construction in areas like the Silver Lakes subdivision, but plans on offering service there by January - if the weather holds.

Moyes also said he prefers the cable company add their lines in new subdivisions at the time other underground lines are being in-stalled.

Scott said Insight is working on an agreement with the contractor that installs US WEST's communication lines to do just that.

Moyes also said the city is looking at another 15-year agreement with Insight and he defended the longevity of such contracts.

"There are some negatives by short terming it (agreements)," he said, emphasizing that long contracts actually improve quality of service.