Comcast grapples with backlash in Georgetown after installing refrigerator-sized utility boxes

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has begun installing refrigerator-sized utility boxes in Washington, D.C.'s historic Georgetown neighborhood, sparking a backlash from some residents.

Local newspaper The Georgetown Dish detailed the dispute over the green utility boxes in a story on Wednesday, which included a photo of one of the boxes that had been placed on a sidewalk made of paving stones. Comcast began installing the utility boxes last month.

One of the utility boxes has been placed near the busy intersection of Wisconsin Ave. and M Street that makes the sidewalk inaccessible for handicapped persons, Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood commissioner Bill Starrels told the newspaper. The installation of the utility boxes has also drawn the attention of the D.C. Department of Transportation, which issues permits that allow for construction on sidewalks.

"Comcast followed its customary process and protocol to secure permits through DDOT—which we received for our work in Georgetown. We were not aware of additional requirements," Comcast spokeswoman Aimee Metrick said in a statement sent to FierceCable Wednesday. "That being said, just yesterday we had a productive meeting with interested parties to better understand their concerns so we can work to address and find mutually beneficial solutions as we continue to provide Georgetown customers with our innovative products and services," she added.

AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) have seen similar responses in many cities where they have installed utility boxes for their respective U-verse TV and FiOS TV products. After halting construction on its U-verse network in San Francisco, AT&T won a court ruling in July that will allow it to continue expanding its network there.

Comcast officials wouldn't say why the company is installing the utility boxes in D.C., or detail the type of services they will enable. The MSO converted the D.C. system to an all-digital platform in October 2011. 

Comcast picked up the D.C. cable system, formerly known as District Cablevision, as part of its 2002 acquisition of AT&T Broadband. John Malone's Tele-Communications Inc. operated the system before AT&T bought TCI in 1999.

For more:
- The Georgetown Dish has this story

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