Denver -- AT&T Broadband & Internet Services is
apparently close to resolving its dispute with Aurora, Colo., over alleged violations of
its new franchise.
Local officials said last week that consumer complaints
filed against AT&T Broadband had dwindled in the six weeks since the city gave the MSO
30 days to cure problems related to the upgrade of its 55,000-subscriber system outside of
Aurora acting director of communications Kim Podobnik said
the city had received just 11 complaints in the six-week period, compared with 13 in an
"[A total of] 11 complaints is not out-of-line with
what's normal," she added.
Meanwhile, AT&T Broadband reported that the
750-megahertz upgrade of its Aurora network is ahead of schedule, and it should be
completed prior to the March 2000 deadline stipulated in its franchise.
The MSO has been scrambling to complete its local upgrade
in hopes of avoiding a repeat of earlier this year, when it had to shell out $700,000 in
services and grants to settle a dispute over the long-delayed rebuild of its system.
"We've put a lot of effort into this, and
it's showing results," AT&T Broadband spokesman Matt Fleury said.
Citing 118 complaints during the first six months of the
year, compared with 49 for the like period a year ago, the city informed AT&T
Broadband July 16 that it had breached the new franchise contract it signed in February.
Many of the grievances involved the company's alleged
failures to restore public and private property promptly, to inform citizens prior to
performing work on their property and to submit reports to the city detailing service
outages and the number of complaints it received.
The city also alleged that in about 30 instances, AT&T
Broadband had not obtained the necessary construction permits to proceed with its upgrade.
Podobnik said AT&T Broadband has been working to
resolve the violations, but she warned that the city must still verify that all of the
problem sites have been addressed before the matter can be declared closed.
"It's still early in the game," she said.
"We have to inspect all of these sites before we can close out these permits. But our
goal isn't to fine [AT&T Broadband]. It's to ensure that our citizens get
the best service possible."
She added that the city should know within two weeks
whether to proceed with charges of franchise violations against the operator, which could
result in a series of financial penalties.
Fleury said the company has warned contractors against
entering private property without first informing residents.
"We want to make sure that door hangers are hung,
notices are sent and restoration is done in a timely fashion," he added.
"We're working hard to communicate with the city so they can communicate with