AT & T Broadband to Serve NYC MDUs

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AT & T Broadband signed a deal last week to provide local, toll and long-distance telecommunications services to multiple-dwelling units in parts of New York City with developer The Lefrak Organization.

AT & T Broadband will offer service to Lefrak buildings in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens with about 18,000 units. The deal is for 12½ years. The MSO expects to begin offering service to the Lefrak properties in November.

"The combination of our aggressive local service strategy and experience uniquely positions AT & T to provide any-distance communications to consumers in residential multiple-dwelling units," AT & T Broadband CEO Dan Somers said in a prepared statement. "Our agreement with Lefrak is a great example of what we can do in this vast and growing market."

AT & T Broadband does not own cable systems in New York. Still, it will offer its own facilities-based service, running off a network formerly owned by Teleport Communications Group. AT & T Corp. bought TCG in 1998.

While the deal appears to be a method to bypass cable operators that have yet to reach telephony agreements with AT & T, spokeswoman Sarah Duisik said this was not the case.

AT & T has yet to reach a deal with an unaffiliated cable operator to deliver local telephony service. A tentative deal with Time Warner Inc. reached last year is on hold primarily due to Time Warner's pending merger with America Online Inc.

Time Warner Cable is the cable operator in Manhattan, while Brooklyn and Queens are served by Cablevision Systems Corp.

Duisik said the Lefrak agreement does not include data services, but it could in the future.

She added that Lefrak has other buildings in the New York metropolitan area-mainly in Jersey City, N.J.-and AT & T Broadband could possibly offer telephony service in those buildings in the future, as well.

"There are opportunities for AT & T to serve other Lefrak properties," Duisik said.

Duisik said that although this is the first MDU deal AT & T Broadband has done for telephony, there could be more, adding that there are teams at the company dedicated to selling service to MDUs.