AT & T Didnt Sue San Jose


AT & T Broadband officials stepped back from a threat to sue the city of San Jose, Calif., citing "productive talks" aimed at ending a stalemate over permits the operator needs to upgrade part of its plant.

The city has yet to act on 40 permits submitted by the MSO, which needs to improve plant serving about one-third of the city. The MSO bought the plant from Pacific Bell when that telco's new parent company, SBC Communications Inc., decided to get out of the video-delivery business.

Part of the problem stems from PacBell's failure to remove cable-service nodes that, residents complained, are big and noisy. Tom Manheim, public-outreach manager for San Jose, said PacBell agreed to remove the nodes as part of a settlement to get out of franchise obligations, but it failed to remove them before selling the plant to AT & T Broadband.

Also, PacBell sold the plant to AT & T Broadband, but the latter never obtained a franchise for that plant, he indicated.

AT & T Broadband is negotiating a new overall franchise with the city. The current franchise expires in December, Manheim said.

Technically, the PacBell plant issues are not part of the franchise talks. But Manheim indicated that "dispute resolution"-referring to the node issue-would be discussed within the context of a new franchise agreement.

AT & T Broadband's business plan had included the start of high-speed-data service AT & T@Home in the community before the end of the year, but the permit delay has cast a cloud over that launch.

In a letter to city officials earlier this month, an attorney for the MSO threatened to take legal action Aug. 28 if permits were not approved.

But last week, Andrew Johnson, executive director of communications for AT & T Broadband locally, said there was "significant motion" on the operator's demands since the letter was delivered. Therefore, the company did not sue.

"By mid-September, this should all shake out," he added.