The city of Oak Forest, Ill., has become the latest
Chicago-area community to sign up for Ameritech New Media's cable service.
Officials in the Chicago suburb last week inked a 15-year
franchise with the MSO, placing it on a collision course with Tele-Communications Inc.,
which already serves the city's 26,200 residents and 9,700 households.
"Our citizens have been asking for competition in
cable-TV service, and we're very happy to provide it for them through this franchise
with Ameritech New Media," said Oak Forest Mayor Patrick Gordon, in a prepared
Ameritech now has 14 cable deals in the area, giving it
more than 1 million residents and 415,000 households under franchise. Its largest deal
involves Area 5 in metro Chicago, where 500,000 residents and 185,000 households represent
the company's second-largest cluster, spokesman Geoff Potter said.
Potter added that construction in Oak Forest is expected to
begin sometime in mid-1999.
Overall, ANM now has 85 franchises in Illinois, Michigan
and Ohio, covering a population of 3.5 million and some 1.5 million households.
Its continued move into the Chicagoland area is setting up
a no-holds-barred battle against TCI, which has been building a huge cluster in the local
market through a series of system swaps and acquisitions in the past year.
Elsewhere, Ameritech picked up its 85th overall franchise
last week when it signed an agreement in Rochester, Mich. -- a community of 3,700
households also served by TCI.
Also last week, the company launched its Americast service
in Schaumburg, Ill., another TCI venue; and in Grove City, Ohio., a suburb of Columbus
served by Time Warner Cable.