Arcadia, Calif., Awards Altrio's First Franchise

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Altrio Communications Inc. — a start-up telecommunications provider that plans to offer service to 427,000 Southern California homes — has its first franchise.

Officials in Arcadia, Calif., a bedroom community 15 miles east of Los Angeles, voted 4-0 last week to award Altrio a 10-year deal with an option for a five-year extension if the company can complete its buildout within five years.

The news ended weeks of silence from start-up telecom overbuilders. Many such companies are struggling to stay afloat.

Altrio will take on Adelphia Communications Corp. — an incumbent that's significantly improved its service since upgrading its 10,500-subscriber systems last year.

"There were a great many complaints before the upgrade was done," said Arcadia spokeswoman Cindy Rowe. "But things have improved since then."

Altrio's franchise is effective in 30 days, giving the company time to deliver the necessary bonding and insurance documents to the city. It then expects to immediately start building its network.

"Like maybe on day 31," said spokeswoman Brenda Trainor. "We're ready to go. Our guys are really excited about this."

Arcadia — a predominantly affluent community of 50,000 residents and 20,000 households at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains — is adjacent to Pasadena and Monrovia, localities expected to act on Altrio's franchise requests by the end of the summer, Trainor said.

The company is led by a trio who were also executives at InterMedia Partners.

The Arcadia system reflects the changing state of the cable industry. In just two years, it's changed hands from Tele-Communications Inc. to Century Communications Corp. to Adelphia.

Altrio has also filed for franchises in nearby Burbank and Glendale, and is in negotiations for a deal that would cover Los Angeles and the surrounding county.

The company has $125 million in initial equity financing, with commitments for another $125 million from the same investors. Trainor declined to comment on whether Altrio is close to securing additional funding.

"But I can tell you the mayor in Arcadia is an accountant, and he gave us a pretty good once-over," she said.

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