Washington -- SBC Communications Inc. chairman and CEO
Edward Whitacre said last Thursday that he has yet to decide the fate of Ameritech New
Media's cable systems, although he hinted that his preference is to stick with
marketing direct-broadcast satellite services.
In a dinner speech at the Legg Mason Wood Walker investor
conference here, Whitacre said his company was still evaluating whether to continue
providing cable service over systems SBC acquired in its merger with Ameritech Corp.,
which closed in October.
"Truly, we have not made up our mind yet," he
said. "It is too early for me to speculate on that."
As of January, ANM reported having about 250,000 cable
subscribers, mostly in the Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, areas.
Nevertheless, Whitacre said, SBC's marketing deal with
DirecTV Inc. was the telco's preferred route in the video market. "We believe
that's a better service. It goes across more of our service area," he added.
"We have sold tens of thousands [dishes] as an adjunct to our business."
In Dallas, Whitacre said, SBC is offering video services
over digital subscriber line, the high-speed-data service that competes with cable modems.
"We are doing video over DSL in Dallas now.
That's not widely known," he added. He did not say how long the trial would last
or whether SBC planned to ramp up its DSL-video strategy.
In other comments, he said SBC's rollout of DSL --
"Project Pronto" -- was moving forward rapidly. "We will cover more than 80
percent of our customers by the middle of 2001 because we are a little ahead of
schedule," he added.
Project Pronto will guarantee data subscribers access at
1.5 megabits per second, while 60 percent of DSL subscribers will have access at 6 mbps,