Comcast, Calif. County Near Settlement


Comcast Corp. and Monterey County, Calif., have reached a settlement that
should end two years of litigation over whether Comcast's predecessor, AT&T
Broadband, was living up to its franchise requirements.

Comcast will pay $1 million, plus concessions, to end the disagreement and
enable approval of final transfer of the property from AT&T Broadband to the
new owner.

The deal has been tentatively approved by the county Board of Supervisors,
but several documents -- including the transfer agreement and stipulations
regarding a local institutional network -- still need to be signed, according to
county information-technology director Virgil Schwab.

Comcast spokesman Andrew Johnson said the parties are still hammering out the
final details, and he would not discuss them. However, he added, the company is
optimistic and confident that all of the agreements will be completed.

The county began complaining about AT&T Broadband in 1998, Schwab said. A
number of issues irritated regulators, including a lack of PEG-access (public,
educational and government) channels; lack of connections for public buildings,
as required in the franchise; and the county's outdated cable plant.

The 11,000 consumers served in the county, mostly around Monterey Bay and
Salinas farm country, complained about poor service.

The parties have been negotiating since the transfer proceeding.

In addition to the cash payment, Comcast will reportedly commit to building
the I-net, including stepping back into the city of Monterey and connecting a
courthouse there that was bypassed during initial construction, the county
executive said.

Comcast will submit better records on service performance and develop formal
escalation proceedings for unresolved consumer complaints, according to the

Both sides anticipated final agreements in June.