Seren Innovations Inc., the Minneapolis-based parent of
which is acquiring Colorado's largest utility, plans to file for cable franchises in
four Front Range communities.
The video arm of Northern States Power Co., Seren said last
week that it will pursue franchises in Boulder, Greeley, Fort Collins and Longmont --
northern Colorado communities currently served by AT&T Broadband & Internet
Upon approval of its requests, Seren plans a hybrid
fiber-coaxial network capable of delivering cable, Internet, local telephone and
long-distance telephone services to 250,000 area homes and businesses.
"We chose this area because of its population density,
solid demographics and genuine desire for competition and choice in the telecommunications
arena," Seren CEO Glynis Hinschberger said in a prepared statement.
Seren had reportedly been eyeing Colorado since NSP
announced its acquisition of New Century Energies, the assets of which include Public
Service Co. of Colorado.
Its entry into northern Colorado raises questions about an
eventual move into Denver, where it could presumably use PSC's electrical facilities
to compete for 460,000 cable subscribers served by AT&T Broadband in the metro area.
However, it would be entering a market where AT&T is
poised for competition, having signed up 100,000 digital-cable customers and having
launched high-speed-data service AT&T@Home in six suburban communities and a
telephone-over-cable trial in Aurora, Colo.
"We've been performing as if this was a
competitive market for some time," AT&T Broadband spokesman Matt Fleury said.
Experts said that by offering telecommunications services
over PSC's plant, Seren avoids the cost of an overbuild. Moreover, PSC already has
authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to offer telecommunications
Moreover, Denver sources believe the city's franchise
with PSC would allow Seren to skirt a local ordinance mandating that any new franchise
must go before the voters.