Denver -- Alleged franchise violations by AT&T
Broadband & Internet Services will not simply disappear with the just-completed
upgrade of the MSO's network in Aurora, Colo.
The city said it will pursue breach-of-franchise charges
against AT&T Broadband, despite receiving fewer complaints since the upgrade of its
58,000-subscriber network was completed two weeks ago.
"Frankly, the complaints had little to do with the
breach issues, even though many occurred during the upgrade," Aurora television- and
cable-services manager Joe LaRocco said. "And complaints have dropped off since their
crews left town, but that doesn't mean they've stopped."
AT&T Broadband said last week that it had completed a
750-megahertz upgrade of the Aurora system a full six months ahead of the March 2000
deadline contained in its new franchise.
However, LaRocco said, most of the franchise violations
committed by the MSO involved failure to restore public and private property during the
upgrade, safety issues arising from not obtaining necessary work permits, neglecting to
warn homeowners before entering their property and not submitting reports detailing
service outages and complaint numbers.
"These are issues that just can't stop with the
rebuild," LaRocco said. "We want to ensure going forward that they will abide by
the rules and regulations stated in their franchise."
At this time, he added, the city's options are a
negotiated settlement or public hearings -- something AT&T Broadband is unlikely to
want as it begins marketing new services in the Denver suburb.
"Our primary goals were to complete the upgrade so our
customers can have these improved services and to work with the city to resolve any
outstanding issues," AT&T Broadband spokesman Matt Fleury said.
With the upgrade complete, all of Aurora can now receive
more than 222 cable channels, including the AT&T Digital package. The company recently
announced that it had signed up its 100,000th digital customer in metro Denver, making it
only the second community in the nation to reach that milestone.
Meanwhile, the company plans to have its AT&T@Home
high-speed-data service available citywide within two weeks, Fleury added.
Elsewhere, financial-disclosure statements filed last week
revealed that AT&T Broadband has spent $186,000 in the past two months on a campaign
to renew its franchise in Denver.
With the deal scheduled to go before the voters Nov. 2,
opponents want Denver residents to reject the franchise unless the MSO agrees to an
open-access provision allowing unaffiliated Internet-service providers to use its network
to deliver their services.
The access issue, of course, is a contentious one that
AT&T Broadband is facing in various markets across the country, where local
governments have tried to tack that requirement onto franchise transfers or enact the
condition into law.
Most notably, the company is battling a Portland, Ore.,
open-access law in federal court.