Ameritech New Media has launched cable service in a sixth
northwest Chicago suburb, where it's set to go head-to-head with Tele-Communications
The company unveiled its Americast programming package
April 17 in Prospect Heights, Ill., a community of 15,000 residents and 6,900 homes.
Meanwhile, the battle for control of the Chicago suburbs --
where the two MSOs already compete in nearby Arlington Heights -- figures to get even
fiercer now that TCI plans to acquire 255,000 Jones Intercable Inc. subscribers in the
area, including in four communities where Ameritech Corp.'s cable arm currently
Once that deal is completed, eight of the nine Chicago-area
suburbs that ANM currently has under franchise will be located in TCI communities.
ANM officials wasted no time in promising consumers
"better service, more channels and greater value than what was previously available
to area residents."
"For the first time ever, Prospect Heights residents
can enjoy the choice, control and convenience of competitive cable-TV service," said
Margaret Stender, ANM's vice president of marketing, in a prepared statement.
Aware of ANM's pending arrival, TCI responded Dec. 1
by moving Disney Channel to its expanded-basic tier in Prospect Heights -- a move that
shaved $12.90 per month off some local monthly cable bills.
TCI immediately fired back at ANM's suggestion that
cable subscribers in Prospect Heights were not receiving quality cable service.
"We intend to prove that day-to-day, we provide
superior customer service," said Terry Pfister, executive director of communications
for TCI of the Great Lakes, "and that there is no reason to go anywhere else --
unless you want inferior service."
TCI recently announced an ambitious rebuild schedule for
its systems in the northwest Chicago suburbs, which has already gotten under way in
Moreover, Pfister said, many of the channels that ANM
claims that TCI does not carry are actually offered on its digital-programming package,
which was launched in December. Others appear on the MSO's expanded-basic tier, she
"This is a continuation of the competitive situation
in the Chicagoland area," she said. "Ameritech is a competitor to be taken
seriously, but so is TCI."