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Cable bill on the rise

As of Feb. 1, cable rates in the Selma area are going up.

One local resident, though, doesn’t seem to mind.

“As long as I get WSFA, I’m happy,” said Suzanne Ingram, chief clerk in the Dallas County probate judge’s office.

Ingram added that she doesn’t usually watch television, but that her husband, Leonard Ingram, enjoys the History Channel while the grandchildren enjoy cartoon channels.

According to Tom Early, vice president of operations of Charter Communications, Selma residents are going to see a lot for their rate hike.

Early said that basic service will stay at $12.14, while expanded service will increase $1.74 for a combined basic and expanded service rate of $36.61.

The basic service includes about 12 channels while the expanded service has channels like CNN and ESPN in addition to several others.

The $1.74 increase, Early said, is determined by what’s reasonable based on the operating expense of the area. He said that Charter Communications already absorbs part of that expense.

Early said that if the company could absorb all the costs, then there wouldn’t be any rate increase. Unfortunately, he added, that isn’t possible.

The increase is partly based on operating costs and history, but it’s also because of a $6 million investment Charter Communications is making in the Selma area.

Early said that a number of upgrades are occurring in the area right now, and should be complete by the end of February. The upgrades began around June 2002.

The upgrades include fiber optics lines being installed, greater reliability with service, 230 channels, and high speed Internet access.

Also, about 300 miles of cable lines will be replaced or repaired by the end of February. Early said that 225 miles have been replaced at this point.

Early said that the network hadn’t been upgraded in a few years, and that Charter wasn’t sparing any expense when it came to installing a new network.

“Selma is getting a very advanced broad band network,” Early said.

Early said that Charter must pay for each subscriber that watches satellite programs such as ESPN. His company pays for those programs in advance and that’s why they ask subscribers to pay their monthly bills in advance.