S.F., Ends TCI-AT&T Squabble

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San Francisco has agreed to transfer its
Tele-Communications Inc. franchise to AT&T, ending any danger of a squabble over
access to the @Home Network.

Under a settlement confirmed by city attorney Louise Renne
last week, almost 190,000 local TCI subscribers would be transferred to AT&T in
exchange for a pledge to upgrade the city's antiquated cable network to 750 megahertz
within four years.

The deal means Renne will not be pursuing an "open
architecture" plan for cable that could have forced the company to allow unaffiliated
Internet Service Providers on its high-speed @Home platform.

After announcing the agreement, mayor Willie Brown sent the
proposed agreement to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where it could meet with a
chilly reception.

In a recent interview, board president Tom Amminiano said
he was "not happy" with the proposal and that the city's negotiating team were
"giving away the store."

Apart from an upgrade, the agreement reportedly does not
extract any additional concessions from AT&T.

"Personally, I think it sucks," Amminiano said of
the deal.

Officials at TCI's Walnut Creek, Calif., offices did not
return calls requesting comment.

Renne said that, with the Department of Justice and Federal
Communications Commission having signed off on AT&T's acquisition of TCI, it seemed
appropriate for the FCC to handle the open access matter.

However, despite the agency's refusal so far to address the
issue, that doesn't mean open access is necessarily dead, she said, adding that the FCC
Local and State Advisory Committee will undoubtedly take up the issue when it meets this
week.

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