Anticipating future competition from Southern New England
Telecommunications Corp., Comcast Corp.'s Comcast Cable Communications has upgraded
its New Haven, Conn., system to 860 megahertz and added 50 new channels, including about
one-dozen basic channels, at no added cost to subscribers.
Comcast will market the upgraded service as
"UltraTV," and it will feature a total of 125 channels -- including 34 digital
Music Choice channels and additional pay-per-view and premium services -- as well as a new
on-screen program guide.
However, the New Haven system's fiber optic lines will
be advanced-analog, and they will not have digital capacity. Nor will the system offer
high-speed Internet-access service @Home Network.
Steve Brookstein, Comcast's regional senior vice
president for Connecticut, Colorado and California, said digital compression and cable
modems would eventually come to New Haven, but, for now, the MSO is upgrading "in
At present, Brookstein said, Comcast would market the
upgrade heavily under the "UltraTV" brand, with a "full complement" of
Comcast and SNET do not currently compete head-to-head in
New Haven, although SNET has customers in New Haven County, and it eventually plans to
overbuild in the city, according to company spokeswoman Myra Stanley.
SNET, which has advanced-analog cable systems in 10
Connecticut towns, plans to add 10 more this year, Stanley said, including Wallingford,
Meriden and Stratford.
The phone company does not offer cable-modem service for
Internet access, and it has not said if it will add the product to its systems.
What's more, SNET's video efforts in Connecticut
are under a cloud because of its pending merger agreement with powerful regional Bell
operating company SBC Communications Inc., which pulled the plug on Pacific Bell's
nascent cable foray when it acquired that phone company last year.
The SBC-SNET deal is expected to be finalized sometime in
Nonetheless, Brookstein said, he is treating SNET as a
"We see them laying wire," he added.