Overbuilder Skips Portland

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DENVER -WideOpenWest LLC last week said it has abandoned plans to pursue a cable franchise in Portland, Ore., and surrounding suburbs.

The news was only a minor setback for Portland, however. The city is negotiating deals with Western Integrated Networks and RCN Corp., both of which plan to build networks that would compete with AT&T Broadband.

WideOpenWest president Mark Haverkate conceded that the field had become too crowded in Portland.

"When we were invited into Portland, we were the only company that would be coming in," he said. "Now there would be four. We think it's wiser to spend our efforts and capital on markets where we'll be the new company in town."

Haverkate said the company has not ruled out a possible return to the local market.

"It depends on what happens with the other companies, and how much success we have elsewhere," he said.

The company's decision also extends to 117,000 AT&T customers represented by the Metro Area Communications Commission, a coalition of 14 Portland suburbs that recently fined AT&T $20,000 for not meeting telephone response times at its local service center.

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