WideOpenWest LLC continues to make headway with its
overbuilding plans in Colorado and California.
The company, peopled by cable-industry veterans, had its
plan to serve Aurora, Colo., approved on first reading by the City Council. The franchise
-- which would operate in competition with AT&T Broadband & Internet Services --
must be approved at a second reading March 20 to become official.
The franchise will be very similar in requirements to that
held by the incumbent. Differing standards for latecomers have been legal bones of
contention by incumbents in other competitive markets.
"WOW is an interesting company. They appear very
content to operate under the same parameters as AT&T. Any changes we made were
enhancements for the city," Aurora television-cable-services coordinator Joe LaRocco
If finally approved, WOW proposes a build commencing in six
months. Customers may be switched on within one year of approval. The plans there call for
video, data and Internet protocol-telephony delivery.
WOW previously obtained a 15-year franchise to operate in
Jefferson County, Colo., which contains 25 communities with 500,000 residents in the
WOW executives also confirmed that they plan to file for a
cable license in Sacramento, Calif., April 6.
That application will be for Sacramento only: The company
continues to conduct market analysis on neighboring communities, vice president of
marketing Michael Steinkirchner said.
The company has already attracted $50 million in funding
from sources including Oak Hill Capital Partners, Steinkirchner said. The company will
solicit for another round of equity funding very soon, he added.
Sacramento is attractive because it ranks among the
fastest-growing areas in California, he said. Also a minor consideration: It's
simpler to get permission to enter Sacramento than other areas. The city does not have a
franchising procedure and all of the related paperwork.
Comcast Corp. already serves the community. Another
overbuilder, Western Integrated Networks, obtained a license in February. That company has
begun strand-mapping in the area, Sacramento Metro Cable Commission executive director
Rich Esposto said.
Observers have opined that an overbuilder would have to
capture 15 percent of the market, offering bundled services, to achieve profitability.
Steinkirchner said his company is shooting for 25 percent.
"Like with all companies, it's who executes. We
have great confidence in our management team," he said. In the real world, the new
competitors may end up staking claim to different areas of the community, he added.
With all of that building going on, will there be a war for
contract help? "I think there will be enough contractors. We've got 'em
lined up," he said.