Denver -- The federal government has granted LyncStar
Integrated Communications LLC, a SMATV operator based here, its third open-video-system
license in the state of Colorado.
The Federal Communications Commission last week approved
LyncStar's application for an OVS license to serve the community of Fort Collins,
Colo., a college town located north of Denver.
LyncStar CEO Alax Burney said the company already serves
one multiple-dwelling unit in Fort Collins, and it has lined up two other properties owned
by Apartment Investment and Management Co. (AIMCO), the nation's largest owner of
apartment complexes. Fort Collins will also be the site of LyncStar's first foray
into the single-family residential market.
SMATV stands for satellite-master-antenna TV; SMATV
companies serve apartment buildings.
"We're trying to build a presence," Burney
The company also has OVS licenses to serve portions of
Aurora and Denver.
Burney said the company has a "lengthy list" of
additional locations, both in Colorado and nationwide, where it plans to apply for OVS
LyncStar will begin construction on its Fort Collins system
sometime in the first quarter of 1999. It plans to offer a network capable of delivering
325 channels of programming to consumers and unaffiliated alternative-service providers,
which, under FCC rules, have the right to lease up to two-thirds of the company's
available channel capacity.
However, unlike in Denver and Aurora, LyncStar's FCC
license for Fort Collins was granted without opposition from local officials. Denver and
Aurora asked the FCC to reject the company's license application for their markets,
arguing that the OVS process was designed to allow regional Bell operating companies to
offer local video services.
But in granting its authorization, the FCC's Cable
Services Bureau has consistently noted, "Any person may obtain a certification,"
as long as they comply with agency regulations.
Although it is not required to obtain a local franchise,
LyncStar will still have to comply with the same must-carry, retransmission-consent and
PEG-access (public, educational and government) requirements as the incumbent cable
Dean Smits, executive director of the Denver Office of
Telecommunications, said the city remains opposed to LyncStar coming into the local
market, but it will take no further action against the company.
Instead, it will await a decision from the Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals, which is hearing a challenge to the FCC's OVS regulations.
Meanwhile, Burney said, LyncStar is still in the
engineering phase for its systems in Denver and Aurora, but it has several more AIMCO
properties to anchor those networks.
"[AIMCO] will act as a hub for us," Burney said.
"They're the justification for doing business."
LyncStar now has 100 OVS systems up and running, serving
some 15,000 customers in 15 states.