Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Cable TV service to change hands

February 16, 2000

A Lawrence-based company is purchasing the cable television operations that serve about 1,400 customers in Basehor, Linwood, Tonganoxie and rural Leavenworth County.

WorldNet LLC, owned by brothers Dolph Simons III and Dan Simons, has entered into an agreement with Galaxy Telecom LP for the purchase.

Ultimately, the move will mean improved and expanded cable television service for customers in those cities and the unincorporated areas of the county that are now served by Galaxy, according to Dan Simons.

"Immediately, we want to start improving the signal," he said. "It has some deficiencies. We're going to likely station two full-time people over there to tighten up the system and improve the current signal."

The Simonses are members of the family that owns Sunflower Cablevision in Lawrence, which will play a key role in WorldNet's operations in this area. Sunflower currently serves about 30,000 customers in Lawrence, Eudora and portions of rural Douglas County.

"It's our intention, in six months to a year, to physically tie the systems together," Dan Simons said.

That means additional channel offerings, high-speed Internet access capabilities, digital channels and telephony, he said.

WorldNet would contract with Sunflower Cablevision to provide the employees to service and maintain the area system, Simons said. Sunflower currently is completing a system upgrade to fiber-optic cable.

He said the move to purchase the operations signifies his family's commitment to the area. Dolph Simons III and Dan Simons are co-managers of WorldWest LLC, which owns The Mirror.

"It makes perfect sense for us," Simons said. "It's right next door. It's contiguous. It goes back to the fact that we really believe in this area."

Because Galaxy holds franchise agreements with cities of Basehor, Linwood and Tonganoxie and with Leavenworth County, WorldNet is beginning the process of transferring those agreements and extending the duration of those agreements.

"What I'd like to do is use this time while we're negotiating the transfer to gain a new franchise agreement," Dan Simons said. "A lot of these franchises have two or three years left, which obviously is no time at all to pay back the debt on the acquisition."

He's hopeful that the area councils and commissions will agree to a length of time concurrent with the 15-year franchise that Sunflower recently negotiated with the city of Lawrence.

"While it wouldn't be the exact same franchise, we'd like to get the dates all lined up because it will be the same system," Simons said. "I think we can, hopefully, get this done by the middle of March. I would certainly hope so because we have a proven track record of 30 years of providing high-quality customer service. I think the franchises should be approved. Of course, I'm biased. We're a proven company. This is a long-term business decision."

Simons was to meet Tuesday night with the Linwood City Council. In addition, he will meet next Tuesday night with the Basehor City Council. And he'll meet Feb. 28 with the Leavenworth County Commission and the Tonganoxie City Council.

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