WideOpenWest Ropes In Commerce City

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Denver-WideOpenWest LLC added to the number of cable franchises it has in Colorado last week by agreeing to serve Commerce City, a community north of here.

With a similar deal also in place with Loveland, Colo., the Denver-based start-up now has five franchises in the Denver metro area, representing more than 220,000 Front Range residents currently controlled by AT & T Broadband.

Overall, the company is working on agreements with 36 communities in metro Denver, including the city of Denver, where voters will decide next month on a franchise that would allow WOW to compete for 116,000 AT & T Broadband cable viewers.

WOW president and CEO Mark Haverkate predicted the company will have 500,000 Colorado residents under franchise by year's end.

"We continue to make extraordinary progress on securing franchises in our target service areas," Haverkate said in a prepared statement. "Community leaders have been extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of cable television competition and our open-access strategy."

With a business plan revolving around high-speed-data services and offering area Internet-service providers access to its network, WOW also has agreements covering the Denver suburbs of Jefferson County, Aurora and Greenwood Village. Construction on an 860-megahertz network is already under way in Jefferson County and Greenwood Village.

"The city is very pleased to have a cable competitor entering our community," Commerce City Mayor Casey Hayes said. "WideOpenWest will offer our residents a choice in cable services and access to the newest products and services available on the market."

The company will compete against AT & T Broadband in the cable and Internet-access arena, as well as against the MSO and U S West for local and long-distance telephone customers.

WOW spokesman Mike Steinkirchner said construction on a network in Denver will begin immediately if local voters approve a proposed franchise that will appear on the Aug. 8 ballot. A second franchise will be on the ballot in Boulder, Colo., the same day.

"We should be started in all of these communities by the end of summer," he added.

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