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Bresnan Communications is a privately held American company that delivers digital cable television, including high-definition, high-speed Internet services and digital telephone service to residential and commercial customers in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. The company is the 11th largest MSO with over 300,000 customers in its service area.


Bresnan Communications was formed in 1984, originally operating cable systems on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the next fourteen years, its operations spread to Minnesota Wisconsinmarker, Mississippimarker and Georgiamarker. In 1994, the company added international operations in Chilemarker and Polandmarker, with the creation of Bresnan International Partners. The company reached 400,000 subscribers after purchasing systems from TCI. When AT&T acquired TCI, Bresnan began to consider an IPO. Before that could occur, Paul Allen's Charter Communications made an offer, and purchased Bresnan's U.S. cable systems for $3.1 billion, organizing them under Charter Communications' umbrella.

Bresnan re-entered the cable business in April 2002, with the $735 million purchase of former AT&T Broadband Rocky Mountain systems from Comcast. The acquisition included some 300,000 subscribers in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

Bresnan Communications currently has 1300 employees across its various systems. It is headquartered in Purchase, New Yorkmarker with offices in the four states in which it operates.

Union Disputes

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) represented several organized Bresnan units through a collective known as Bresnan Workers United. Bresnan, in keeping with current industry culture, has opposed attempts to organize unions and the great majority of its employees have elected to remain union free, with many even going so far as to decertify existing facilities. The most recent organizing efforts at the company's largest facility, the Regional Operations Center [ROC] in Billings, Montana have failed. Currently no ROC employees are union represented. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) does represent several Bresnan employees in Missoula, Montana and remain the only Bresnan employees who have elected to maintain their union status.

Community focus

Bresnan Communications focuses on creating strong relationships with both its customers and the community at large. Some of its community initiatives include:

  • Bresnan Business Incubator, The Bresnan Business Incubator is a partnership of Bresnan Communications and State Governemnt Economic Development Agencies in Montana and Wyoming. The program leverages the resources offered by the state agencies in conjunction with Bresnan's telecommunications and advertising infrastructure to increase the success rate of new and developing businesses in the company's Rocky Mountain service area. The Bresnan Business Incubator will increase public awareness of and demand for economic development services already available for entrepreneurs in the state and at their regional Small Business Development Centers (SBDC's.) This will be done through a series of public service announcements, created and cablecast by Bresnan, which will direct entrepreneurs to a website where they will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about their business proposals. The questionnaires will be forwarded automatically to the Small Business Development Center in their area, where skilled staff will review them and begin the process of advising and assisting their business development. The SBDC advisors will also recommend appropriate businesses for the Bresnan Business Incubator grant program where they will be eligible for Matching Grants of advertising time on Bresnan cable systems and Service Credit Grants for Bresnan Digital Phone and High-Speed Internet.

  • Bresnan Safety Net, which includes a website and community safety expo events that educate families on Internet safety, appropriate television use and general child safety. As part of these expos, Bresnan provides free digital child ID's for parents throughout its footprint. A recent partnership with the Missoula Children’s Theater provides in-school performances focusing on child safety across the four states in Bresnan’s system area.

Bresnan also actively sponsors numerous community and service organizations and events, including the Jackson Hole Film Festival and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and encourages company-wide volunteerism for local organizations in all system areas including Colorado Farm to Table, Montana Special Olympics and many others.

William J. Bresnan

William J. Bresnan was born in Mankato, Minnesotamarker in 1933, the third of four children of Ann and Robert Leonard Bresnan. When Bill was five years old, Robert died from tuberculosis leaving Ann to take care of the family working as a seamstress.

At 12, Bill began fixing radios for his neighbors working out of his home and the local radio shop. Eventually, he was offered a job at the Northwest Radio and Electronic Supply – when Bill heard that a cable system was going to be built in Mankato, he set up a distributorship agreement with Times Wiring Cable, the company that supplied the cable.

In 1958, Bill, along with engineer Joseph Poire, built the Mankato cable system. When Poire offered Bill the job as assistant chief engineer of the newly minted Rochester, MN cable system, Bill signed on. When the chief engineer of the Rochester system disappeared, Bill took over and for the next seven years led a life filled with family and work.

In 1965, Jack Kent Cooke purchased the Rochester system and offered Bill the position of chief engineer. Bresnan agreed, marking the beginning of a 50 year history as a pioneer in the cable industry.

After merging with H&B American Corporation to form H&B American Cablevision in 1968, Cooke made Bill president. Two years later, the company merged with MSO TelePrompTer and by 1974 had reached a goal of a million customers.

Ultimately TelePrompTer was sold to Westinghouse and after managing the transition Bresnan was determined to create his own MSO and seized the opportunity when he won a bid for five systems in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This was the beginning of Bresnan Communications.

In 2000 Bresnan communications sold their North American cable systems to Charter Communications. In April 2002, Bresnan Communications re-entered the US cable management business through the purchase of the former TCI Rocky mountain systems in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado – this is the company that exists today as Bresnan Communications.

William J. Bresnan died on November 27, 2009, from complications due to cancer.


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