Whitacre Confirms Americast Talks5/16/2001 9:39 AM Eastern
Washington -- SBC Communications Inc. CEO Edward Whitacre confirmed Wednesday
that the company is in talks to sell the Americast cable systems controlled by
its Ameritech New Media division to WideOpenWest LLC.
'We're trying to sell it,' Whitacre said after giving a speech on
telecommunications competition at the National Press Club here. Asked when he
expected to finalize a deal, Whitacre responded, 'Hopefully soon.'
Multichannel News first reported Monday that WOW was negotiating an
agreement with SBC to buy the company's cable systems in Illinois, Michigan and
Ohio. SBC has been looking to shed the systems for more than one year.
During his speech, Whitacre ripped into cable industry for not opening its
networks to competitors, focusing most of his criticism on AT&T Corp. He
noted that AT&T recently hiked its rates for cable-modem subscribers after
SBC increased its monthly digital-subscriber-line fees by $10.
'The cable companies have the best of both worlds. Our price increase has
given them cover to raise their rates and still offer the lowest price in the
market. Yet because they don't face the regulations we do, their costs remain
lower,' he added.
Whitacre called for Congress to pass the Internet Freedom and Broadband
Deployment Act, which he said would 'level the broadband playing field by
lifting the red tape off of DSL.'
The SBC chief also complained that while AT&T is actively marketing local
telephone service to business customers, the company is ignoring the residential
market, which isn't as lucrative.