Tele-Communications Inc. will shell out some $700,000 in
services and grants to settle a dispute over the delayed rebuild of its system in Aurora,
A deal settling the issue was unveiled just days before
Aurora city officials were prepared to begin fining the MSO $2,000 a day for not meeting a
Dec. 31, 1998, deadline for completing the upgrade of the 55,000-subscriber system.
Under the agreement, TCI will receive another 15 months, or
until March 31, 2000, to upgrade its network to 750 megahertz, which will allow it to
offer a variety of new services.
"This agreement is designed to benefit the citizens of
Aurora. It insures that TCI will continue the cable upgrade on an aggressive
timetable," said Aurora mayor Paul Tauer.
Some 31,500 area cable viewers have already been upgraded,
with another 6,500 scheduled to see an improvement in their cable service by the end of
Meanwhile, the two sides have until Jan. 18 to sign an
amendment to their existing cable franchise stipulating the conditions of the agreement,
said Thelma Gutierrez, Aurora media coordinator.
However, TCI will be subject to up to $4,000 a day in fines
if it fails to meet its next deadline, Gutierrez added.
The settlement calls for 15,000 TCI customers to receive $4
a month in quarterly vouchers redeemable for any of the company's current services
until their cable service has been upgraded.
"The rebate vouchers provide a valuable immediate
benefit to those customers who are still waiting for their new [programming] lineup and
upgraded services," Tauer said.
TCI has also agreed to contribute $90,000 over three years
to support community activities, as well as a one-time payment of $150,000 to help develop
local programming at KACT-TV, Aurora's municipal television station.
None of the settlement costs will be passed on to
In a prepared statement, Joseph Stackhouse, regional vice
president for TCI of Colorado, said the MSO was unable to complete its upgrade after it
discovered that it needed to replace 271 miles of antiquated underground "fused
disc" cable with fiber optics capable of delivering enhanced services.
"This has been a challenging project, and the 271
additional miles that we are digging up represents an increase of $8.3 million in our
investment in superior service in Aurora," Stackhouse said.