Seren Bails Out of Front Range Plans

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Denver-Seren Innovations Inc. last week unexpectedly scrapped its plans to enter the Colorado telecommunications market.

The announcement came after eight months of informal talks between the video arm of Northern States Power Co. and several communities along Colorado's Front Range.

Sources said Seren, which offers a bundled package of broadband-Internet access and telephone services, had apparently decided that it faced too much competition there.

"WideOpenWest is stomping all over the Front Range," said Gary Gordier, information technologies director for the city of Fort Collins. "Seren apparently decided that there wasn't going to be enough market for a third player."

At present, AT & T Broadband controls the region's cable market.

Seren president and chief executive officer Glynis Hinschberger confirmed the company's opinion that the Colorado market was getting too crowded.

"If the environment changes, and other 'choice providers' are not able to fulfill their plans, we will take another look at the Colorado market," Hinschberger said in a statement.

Seren continues to build its network in the East San Francisco Bay area, where it plans to compete with AT & T in several affluent communities, including Walnut Creek and Concord.

Gordier said Seren's decision wasn't completely unexpected.

"As recently as two weeks ago, they had crews doing walkouts, so from that standpoint I was surprised," he said. "But at the same time, we hadn't had any real franchise negotiations, so I wasn't surprised."

Seren spokeswoman Janey Palmer said several factors were behind the decision to abandon Colorado. Some communities required special franchise elections that would have delayed Seren's entry to the market; the Front Range's population clusters are geographically spread out; and the region's municipalities require expensive underground plant, she explained.

"It would have been a lengthy process," Palmer said. "Right now, we'd like to put our resources into areas where we can get in quickly and start turning a profit."

AT & T spokeswoman Jeannine Hansen declined to comment on Seren's decision.

"But in general, we feel like we would have given them some good competition," Hansen said.

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