Aurora Claims AT&T Broadband Violations


Denver -- Regulators in Aurora, Colo., have notified
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services that it's already in violation of the
franchise it signed in February.

The city has given the MSO 30 days to correct alleged
violations that include not obtaining construction permits needed to upgrade its
55,000-subscriber system outside of Denver.

It's also alleging that AT&T Broadband has been
slow to restore streets torn up by its upgrade, that it failed to inform citizens prior to
entering their property and that it neglected to submit reports detailing service outages
and the number of complaints it receives.

"The city of Aurora has received an outstanding number
of complaints from citizens," council member Dave Williams said in a prepared
statement. "I hope that by finding them in breach of franchise, the city can
demonstrate that protecting citizens and their private-property rights is our first

Aurora spokeswoman Kim Podobnik said the city had received
118 complaints during the first six months of the year, compared with 49 for the same
period a year ago.

"That may not sound like a lot, but we figure that if
we get a complaint, AT&T probably gets 20 calls on the same thing," she added.

Podobnik said most of AT&T Broadband's problems
revolved around its failure to secure construction permits. In one case, its refusal to
wait for a city inspector to identify the location of underground utilities resulted in a
severed natural-gas line, she added.

"In a case like that, they're required to inform
the police and fire departments in case the neighborhood has to be evacuated. They
didn't do it," Podobnik said.

AT&T Broadband spokesman Matt Fleury said the company
was investigating the allegations.

"We certainly share the city's concern, and we
want to conduct this [upgrade] process in a manner that's sensitive to the needs of
all residents," he added.

Fleury said the Aurora upgrade was nearing completion,
which would introduce a 150-channel lineup, high-speed Internet access and local telephone
services to the community.

The exchange between the two sides was only the latest in a
long-running series of confrontations between the company and local officials.

In February, AT&T Broadband paid $700,000 in services
and grants to settle a dispute over the long-delayed rebuild of its system. In exchange,
it received a 15-month extension -- or until March 31, 2000 -- to upgrade its network to
750 megahertz. The MSO will be subject to up to $4,000 per day in fines if it fails to
meet its next deadline.