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Frequently Asked Questions
 
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 Below, the Office of Cable and Broadband Services has provided answers to the most commonly asked cable and broadband questions.  If you have an issue that is not addressed, please call us at 3-1-1 between 7 am and 7 pm to speak with someone, or visit MC311.

Billing Construction - Equipment Tech 
Programming Rate - Service


 
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When I disconnect service, when does the billing stop?
 
When a subscriber contacts the cable operator to disconnect service, the billing for the monthly subscription should stop the next day.
 
Why is the cable company billing me in advance?
 
Cable operators are permitted by the FCC to bill one month in advance for standard monthly charges.  
 
Why is my monthly bill more than advertised?
 
A cable operator’s advertised price is usually for service only.  Equipment, franchise fees and taxes are in addition to the advertised service price.  Additionally, there may be a one-time installation fee or a pro-rated portion on the first bill.
 
What do the “franchise fees” and Public, Educational and Government (PEG) and I-NET charges on my bill mean?  
 
Montgomery County’s cable franchise agreements require the cable operator’s to pay for the public rights-of-way through franchise fees and support for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) cable channels and the County’s Institutional Network.  Federal law allows the cable operators to pass on these fees to subscribers.  A portion of these fees goes to support County Cable Montgomery (CCM), the Montgomery County government channel, and the government institutional network. 
 
Credits of Outages
 
In the event of a service interruption, the Cable operator should make corrective repairs as soon as possible.  This obligation is satisfied if the Cable operator offers the subscriber the next available repair call within a 24 hour period following the service interruption, or at the request of the subscriber, to a mutually convenient later time for the repair call, and successfully repairs the service interruption during the agreed appointment.  If the service interruption is not repaired at the time of the scheduled appointment, the subscriber will receive a credit of 10% of the subscriber normal monthly bill, for video service only, for each 24 hour period or segment thereof that the service interruption continues beyond the scheduled repair call.
 

 
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Is the cable company permitted to dig in my yard?
 
Cable providers have the ability to perform infrastructure upgrades and maintenance that may require construction.  Generally speaking, there is a 60’ ROW (Right-of-Way) from the center of the street with an additional 10’ PUE (Public Utility Easement).  Standing in the center of the street, facing the house, the first 30’ is ROW and the next 10’ is PUE.  So generally speaking communication construction is within 40’ on each side from the center of the roadway is permissible.  Proper restoration is to be preformed after the completion of construction. 
 
Why are paint markings in my yard? 
 
The area has been marked for existing underground utilities. These markings are required prior to construction taking place.
 
 
What do I do if I find a cable wire lying on my property?
 
Contact the Office of Cable and Broadband Services at 311.  Our office will send an Inspector to your home and determine to which cable provider the wiring belongs.  We will notify the appropriate cable provider of the repairs that are necessary. 
  
What do I do if there is cable equipment damaged in my neighborhood?  
 
Contact the Office of Cable and Broadband Services at 311.  Our office will have an Inspector visit the property and determine to which cable provider the wiring belongs.  We will notify the appropriate cable provider of the repairs that are necessary. 
 

 
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Am I responsible for the cable provider’s equipment?
 
All cable providers owned equipment is the responsibility of the subscriber.  This includes cable converter boxes, remotes, cable modems, cable cards, routers, and all accompanying power cords.  Once disconnecting service, all equipment must be returned to the cable operator in the municipality where service was delivered.  Please remember to secure and retain a receipt with the serial numbers for all equipment.
 
Where do I return the in-home cable equipment?
 
Cable equipment must be returned to the cable operator in the municipality where service was delivered.
Equipment may be taken to:
 
Comcast:  50 West Gude Drive, Suite 60, Rockville, MD  20850
 
Verizon:  11006 Viers Mill Road, Wheaton, MD  20902
Behind Westfield Wheaton (Wheaton Plaza) near J.C. Penney
 
RCN:  1304 F Street, NW, Washington, DC  20004
Or you may contact RCN and request a box to mail the equipment back to RCN.  If the equipment is mailed, please record the tracking number for proof of delivery. 
 
I have a new flat panel HDTV.  Why do I need a cable/converter box?
 
All three cable providers encrypt or scramble their signal and only their equipment will decrypt their signal.  The only channels that are not encrypted are the off-air network channels and the PEG channels.
 

 
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Power outages
 
When the electricity is interrupted there is the very strong possibility that all cable services will also be interrupted, even with a home supplemental power supply.  For FiOS telephone subscribers, a battery backup system is activated and will provide additional telephone service for a limited time.  Once electrical power is restored, cable may or may not be restored.
 
Computer hardware and software issues
 
Any computer hardware or software problem is the responsibility of the subscriber.  All cable operators will provide some basic level of assistance regarding your in-home computer at no cost.  
 
Comcast is asking to switch my cable modem to the new DOCSIS 3.0 modem
 
I have an older Comcast modem. What's the difference between a DOCSIS 2.0 and a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem?
Higher speeds require a DOCSIS 3.0 modem because of the "channel bonding" technology used. The delivery of higher Internet speeds cannot be accomplished by older modems. If you internet speed is 10MBps or below, you should be fine using a DOCSIS 2.0 mode. Comcast Internet speeds at 12Mbps or higher use channel bonding and a DOCSIS 3.0 modem will be needed. If your DOCSIS 2.0 modem is working well, then keep it.
 

 
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Does the County have any control over the programming that is offered by the cable company?
 
The only programming jurisdiction granted to the County is oversight of the Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels that are produced by the local municipalities.
 

 
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Does Montgomery County regulate cable rates?
 
Federal law prevents local governments from regulating cable rates where there is “effective competition” as defined by federal law.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled on October 6, 2009 that there was effective competition in Montgomery County except in the following municipalities: Chevy Chase-Section 3, Chevy Chase Village, Laytonsville, Town of Poolesville, Town of Barnesville, and the Town of Washington Grove.
 
The County’s rate regulatory authority was limited to reviewing the rates charged for the basic service tier and the monthly equipment rental fee.  Maximum permitted rates in these areas were set by applying rules and formulas established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but the County had no authority over the rates charged for expanded service tiers.
 
Comcast filed with the FCC for effective competition based on cable alternatives available in the County.  On October 6, 2009, the FCC ordered the County's rate regulatory oversight be revoked.  Due to this action, the County no longer has any regulatory authority over any rates charged by Comcast.
 
To increase competition, additional consideration is given to cable providers who choose to enter a municipality that has an established cable operator already offering services.  The incoming competing cable operator is considered an “over-builder.”  Both Verizon and RCN are consider over-builders in our area and are not subject to rate regulatory authority.
 

 
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Do I have a choice of cable providers?
 
The county issues only non-exclusive franchises for cable television service. Montgomery County administers three cable franchises.  Comcast provides cable service to most all areas of the County.  RCN serves a portion of Montgomery County - Bethesda, the City of Gaithersburg, portions of the Silver Spring area, the City of Takoma Park, the Town of Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase Section 5, Village of Martin’s Addition & Village of North Chevy Chase.  Verizon is offering cable services in many area of Montgomery County.  Please contact Verizon to verify the availability of service in a specific area.
 
Neither cable operator offers service to my address
 
There are homes in Montgomery County where cable service is not available.  These are generally rural areas where the infrastructure needed to provide service has not been constructed.  In these cases, the cost to build the infrastructure necessary to provide cable services may be deferred to the individual requesting service.  A plant extension extends the cable infrastructure to provide service to a specific area or neighborhood.  There are several distance and equipment factors that determine if the cable operator is permitted to charge the homeowner.  
 
 
Who regulates traditional telephone or DSL service in the state of Maryland?
 
The Public Service Commission regulates traditional telephone service in the State of Maryland.  You can contact the PSC at 1-800-492-0474 or on-line www.psc.state.md.us
 
Does the Office of Cable and Broadband Services regulate Direct TV and the Dish Network?
 
No.  The Office of Cable and Broadband Services only regulates the County’s franchised cable providers: Comcast, RCN & Verizon. 
 
How can I get cable information from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)?
 
Cable Service Bureau Fact sheets are available for viewing at the FCC website:  http://www.fcc.gov
 
Where can I find the Cable Franchise Agreements and County Code?

You can find this information on the regulations page.
 
I have a problem with the cable company that they are not resolving satisfactorily.  What can be done about it?  
 
You may file a complaint with the Office of Cable and Broadband Services.  For detailed information on the process, please click here.
 
Got Questions
 
 
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