The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved the city's first new cable franchise agreement in more than 30 years.
By a 12-1 vote, council members gave CenturyLink the go ahead to challenge Comcast for cable television customers.
In seeking the agreement, CenturyLink officials complained that for years Comcast has had a monopoly on television service in Minneapolis. The council's vote allows Century Link to try to break Comcast's lock on the market.
Comcast opposed allowing its new competitor into the Minneapolis market by accusing CenturyLink of trying to skirt a state law that requires cable companies to provide cable TV service to an entire city within five years of winning a franchise.
CenturyLink officials, however, argued that the Federal Communications Commission has found that such laws stifle competition.
Under the agreement, CenturyLink is required to make its service available to at least 15 percent of households in the first two years of its five-year contract.
If CenturyLink succeeds in signing up a certain percentage of eligible households as customers, it will have to increase its minimum coverage area by another 15 percent.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who voted no, said she is glad that the new franchise will bring a competitor to the market. However, she said the agreement does not include an enforcement tool to keep CenturyLink on schedule to meet coverage goals.
"Competition, by itself, is not enough," Glidden said.
Supporters of the franchise agreement say it will be in CenturyLink's best business interests to meet or exceed its coverage goals.