SBC Communications Inc. moved one step forward in its plans
to merge with Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. when it won approval from the
Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control last Wednesday.
According to a draft decision issued by the DPUC, approval
is subject to SBC's commitment to operate SNET's "Personal Vision"
cable-TV franchise for at least 24 months following the merger.
SBC had lobbied heavily against making any pledges
regarding the statewide SNET cable franchise until it had a chance to study the business
In issuing the conditions, the DPUC noted SBC's track
record of shutting down other cable systems following mergers. The regulator ordered SBC
to maintain SNET's current level of capital investment, staffing, marketing, research
and facility deployment in Personal Vision.
SBC must present its evaluation on the Personal Vision
franchise in April. It can propose changes to the cable operations at that time, but it
would need approval from the DPUC to implement them.
An SBC spokesman said the telco is still awaiting approval
on the merger from the Federal Communications Commission. The U.S. Department of Justice
has already stood aside from the matter, he added.
SNET workers were still out on strike last week. Talks with
the Connecticut Telephone Workers Union had resumed late in the week.