Ameritech New Media has been granted a franchise by DuPage
County, Ill., which will allow it to expand its existing cable service into the
jurisdiction's unincorporated areas.
Its first such deal, the franchise calls for Ameritech
Corp.'s cable arm to offer its service to an estimated 45,000 households outside Glen
Ellyn, Glendale Heights and Naperville, Ill. -- three Chicago-area suburbs where it has
networks up and running.
"We couldn't offer service to these areas because
they're outside of the city limits," ANM spokesman Geoff Potter said.
The deal gives Ameritech a total of 109,000 households
under franchise in DuPage County, with a total population of 284,000 residents. It now has
15 franchises in the Chicagoland area, covering 1.2 million homes.
"Since we first began offering service in Glendale
Heights two years ago, we've been inundated with calls from residents of unincorporated
areas who are eager to receive the same benefits of cable competition," said Donna
Garofano, ANM's vice president of public affairs, in a prepared statement.
ANM competes against Time Warner Cable in Glendale Heights
and against Jones Intercable Inc. in Naperville and Glen Ellyn. The Jones systems will be
taken over by Tele-Communications Inc. under a deal between the two MSOs.
Overall, ANM now has a total of 87 cable franchises,
covering 1.5 million homes and 3.7 million residents in three states.
Despite concerns about its future, raised by SBC
Communications Inc.'s pending acquisition of its Chicago-based parent company, ANM has
signed 24 new franchises this year, or an average of one every other week. It has also
launched 29 new cable systems, or an average of one every 11 days, Potter said.
Potter added that construction in the outlying areas of
DuPage County will begin early next year.
"We'll try to get these systems engineered and running
so that we can offer service to people who have been asking for it since 1996," he