Ameritech New Media signed up cable franchise No. 103 last
week, while also launching service in new locations in Ohio and Michigan.
The MSO inked its latest deal after agreeing to offer its
Americast service to the 3,300 residents of Canal Winchester, Ohio, an upscale community
outside of Columbus.
Meanwhile, it launched cable service in Shaker Heights,
Ohio, a village east of Cleveland, and in the Detroit suburb of Shelby Township, Mich.
Both systems were activated last week.
Canal Winchester officials voted unanimously to grant ANM a
15-year franchise that will allow it to compete against Coaxial Communications, the
community's incumbent operator
The agreement gives Ameritech Corp.'s cable arm 40
franchises in Ohio, including Columbus and 24 surrounding suburbs where it now has a
cluster of some 900,000 local residents.
"We've been very successful in our franchising
efforts," ANM spokesman Geoff Potter said. "This is almost the final part of the
puzzle. We've now got Columbus, which has 600,000 residents and 300,000 households,
plus most of its surrounding suburbs."
In Shelby Township -- the larger of its two new systems --
ANM will compete against Comcast Corp. for the area's 22,000 homes, which house
almost 60,000 residents.
In addition to a 65-channel system, ANM plans to deliver
Fox Sports Detroit and Disney Channel -- two networks that are usually sold as premium
offerings -- over its expanded-basic tier.
Potter said construction on the Canal Winchester system
will begin later this year.
Shaker Heights, meanwhile, is a town of 36,000 residents
and 13,500 households currently served by Cablevision Systems Corp., the Cleveland
area's dominant MSO. Residents there will also receive expanded-basic programming
that is usually sold as premium offerings.
"It's our first franchise on the east side of
Cleveland," Potter said. "We've been talking to other east-side
communities, and we expect things to pick up once they hear about our service."