MediaOne will begin offering local telephone service over
cable in the Minneapolis market sometime next year, company president Jan Peters told
local regulators recently.
Speaking to the Minnesota Association of Cable and
Telecommunications Advisors, Peters said the MSO will roll out the service
community-by-community as it completes the recently launched upgrade of its
312,000-subscriber cable network.
Peters' comments, along with a demonstration of how
the service will work, were enough to convince some formerly skeptical city officials that
the company is determined to compete against its former parent company, U S West.
"From all indications, I truly believe now that
MediaOne is intent on offering telephone service against U S West," said Mike
Reardon, telecommunications coordinator for the Minneapolis suburbs of Burnsville and
Officials with the MediaOne National Markets Group who are
responsible for rolling out telephony in Minneapolis said it was unclear whether any other
market will launch prior to the Twin Cities.
MediaOne has already unveiled telephony in six markets:
Atlanta; Boston; Los Angeles; Jacksonville and Lighthouse Point, Fla.; and Richmond, Va.
In Minnesota, however, the MSO will be entering a market
that is already crowded with at least 20 active competitors to U S West, said Mary
Hisling, a spokeswoman for the Colorado-based telco.
"And by the end of the year, it's expected that
100 will have been certified by the Public Service Commission," Hisling added,
"so it's already a competitive market."
Hisling said U S West welcomes MediaOne's arrival,
because facilities-based competition will speed the regional Bell operating company's
entry into the in-state long-distance market.
One local community that is considered a candidate for an
early MediaOne launch is the suburb of Roseville, a town of 33,000 residents. Roseville
was one of the first cities in the area to renew MediaOne's cable franchise, and a
rebuild is under way there.
"The indication that they've given us is that
they hope to have the upgrade done by June," Roseville executive director Coralie
Wilson said. "And they're clearly doing the upgrade with telephone service in
Wilson expects MediaOne to find a market for telephony,
based on U S West's service problems in the area.
Meanwhile, in her comments before the MACTA, Peters said
the launch of the MediaOne Express Internet-access service in Minneapolis had produced
more than 1,000 customers in just over one month.
Moreover, she indicated that future enhancements to
MediaOne Express are in the offing, following the company's merger with Road Runner.
Sandy Colony, vice president of public affairs for Road
Runner, said a "blended product," combining the best content from both services,
will likely launch next year.
U S West, meanwhile, has countered MediaOne Express'
arrival in Minneapolis by introducing asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line service -- a
product that permits consumers to surf the Internet while talking on the same phone line.