Denver -- U S West will begin offering a package of cable
and Internet services over telephone lines to Colorado's most upscale communities
later this year.
The regional Bell operating company got a license from
Douglas County commissioners last week authorizing it to deliver very high-speed
digital-subscriber-line (VDSL) service to 123,000 residents in unincorporated areas of the
The commissioners voted 2-0 to approve the 15-year deal. It
will pit U S West against AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, the area's
dominant operator, with 465,000 cable subscribers.
"The commissioners are really excited about this
element of competition," Douglas County administrator Doug DeBord said.
"Ultimately, we think it will lead to better products and choice for our
Under the license agreement, U S West has up to five years
to build out its network, which will run fiber optics to within 4,000 feet of area homes,
then use VDSL technology to offer the same services that have attracted a combined 16,000
customers to its 177-channel "Choice TV" and "Choice Online" products
U S West spokeswoman Anna Osborn said construction will
begin in 30 days, with the first customer expected to come online three to six months
"We have up to five years to build our network, but
obviously, some consumers will be able to enjoy the service within three to six
months," she said.
The prices of the services figure to be similar to those in
Phoenix -- $34.45 per month for cable and $49.95 for Internet access.
AT&T Broadband executives hinted that U S West was
scrambling to protect its share of the local market in the wake of the MSO's $200
million upgrade of its local network. That project will yield a full suite of enhanced
offerings, including AT&T@Home high-speed Internet access and telephony services.
"Our investment in a state-of-the-art fiber optic
network serving the entire community will certainly prompt others to invest so that they
can remain competitive," AT&T Broadband spokesman Matt Fleury said.
Osborn declined to comment on specific negotiations with
other Denver-area communities. "All I can tell you is that we're involved in
exploratory talks with a number of communities," she said.
Officials in nearby Aurora, Colo., however, confirmed that
talks have been held with U S West, and that they expected to have a franchise agreement
finalized as early as next month.
Other area communities reportedly on U S West's list
include Boulder, Cherry Hills Village, Jefferson County, Lakewood and Littleton.