Denver -- Seren Innovations Inc. filed for a cable
franchise in Longmont, Colo., last week, with the nearby college town of Fort Collins next
on its agenda.
The subsidiary of Northern States Power Co. is seeking
authorization for an 860-megahertz hybrid fiber-coaxial network capable of offering cable,
Internet and local and long-distance telephone services to 65,000 local residents.
Once negotiated, a second cable franchise must be approved
by Longmont voters. "As far as a special election goes, it can be anytime after a
negotiated agreement," said Jeff Cook, telecommunications coordinator for Longmont
Power and Communications, the city's municipal utility.
Initially, Seren will compete against Comcast Corp., the
city's incumbent cable operator. But Comcast is reportedly in the process of swapping its
Longmont system to AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, Colorado's dominant MSO.
Cook said the city wants a deal calling for Seren to use
part of a municipal fiber optic backbone to deliver voice and data services. The
arrangement would involve joint construction, marketing and sales provisions that would
result in services and revenue sharing between the city and the service provider, he
Meanwhile, franchise talks are already under way with
officials Fort Collins, where Seren hopes to file for its second Colorado franchise within
the next month, spokesman Pat Petschel said.
The company expects to have its Longmont franchise in place
within six months, and it is also talking with city officials in nearby Boulder and
Greeley -- two upscale college communities considered ideal for the suite of enhanced
services the company plans to offer. Its goal is to connect all four communities to a
AT&T Broadband officials said the MSO continues to pour
millions of dollars into upgrades in Colorado in a bid to meet the competition.
Seren currently has six authorized cable franchises: Walnut
Creek and Concord, Calif.; and St. Cloud, Waite Park, Sauk Rapid and Sartell, Minn. It has
operations up and running in St. Cloud, and it expects to launch service in Concord
shortly, Petschel said.