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AT&T Files Four More Lawsuits

5/04/2006 6:37 AM Eastern

Four more Chicago suburbs were sued by AT&T Inc. for delaying plant improvements that will lead to a launch later of the telephone company's video service.

The new defendants are Itasca, North Aurora, Wood Dale and Geneva. Suits were filed against the Illinois communities May 2 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Previously, AT&T sued the communities of Carpentersville, Roselle and Wheaton, Ill., as well as two communities in California.

The telephone company is taking a hard line against communities that approve moratoria on siting permits. City regulators say they need time to figure out how to safely site the large control boxes -- called 52Bs in the telco's shorthand -- in the public rights-of-way.

AT&T -- which is upgrading its plant to improve service, as well as make ready for video delivery -- said in the lawsuits that any conditions on the siting permits, such as language indicating that a cable franchise may be needed at a later time, are improper, unlawful and unenforceable under state and federal law.

According to local regulators, 10 communities have put the brakes to the improvement drive, called Project Lightspeed. Of those, seven have been sued and three more anticipate legal action.

September