WideOpenWest LLC plans to build a $500 million broadband
network in the Dallas Metroplex area -- the third major market where it will take on
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services.
The Colorado-based start-up said it applied, or will apply,
for cable franchises in dozens of communities around Dallas, where it would offer video,
voice and high-speed Internet services to some 1 million households. It also plans to
compete against Time Warner Cable in Austin, Texas.
"We've got a lot more on the list,"
WideOpenWest spokesman Michael Steinkirchner said. "We expect to have several
announcements in the first quarter, and to be serving customers later this year."
News of WideOpenWest's plans for Texas came less than
one week after it was granted a 15-year franchise by Jefferson County, Colo., an AT&T
Broadband stronghold of 500,000 residents west of Denver.
It's also reportedly weeks away from obtaining a
franchise in Portland, Ore.
"We believe broadband Internet will be the
telecommunications platform of choice in the years ahead, and existing networks are not
capable of delivering the bandwidth and reliability consumers will demand,"
WideOpenWest president Mark Haverkate said.
WideOpenWest is the latest competitor to target AT&T
Broadband's share of the Texas market. It joins Western Integrated Networks, another
Colorado-based start-up with plans for its own broadband network in the Dallas area.
Between them, the two companies could spend an estimated $1
billion trying to grab a share of the local market, raising the question of whether the
market can support three full-blown services providers.
Dallas officials, meanwhile, are restructuring the
city's local cable ordinance in order to accommodate both companies, and they are
prepared to start negotiating right away.
"When it comes to competition, more jobs, construction
in our rights-of-way and increasing our fees, we're not going to hold up a
franchise," Dallas controllers office director Eric Kaalund said.
AT&T Broadband regional director of communications
Angel Biasatti said the MSO is accustomed to competing with direct-broadcast satellite
operators for consumers. It met that competition by introducing digital cable at its
Dallas system, which become the first in the nation to sign up 100,000 digital
As more competition arrives, AT&T Broadband will spend
$100 million over three years upgrading its network in order to introduce high-speed-data
service AT&T@Home and telephony services, Biasatti added.
Kaalund said the city is less than one month away from
opening negotiations with AT&T Broadband on a renewal of the franchise, which is set
to expire in September.
In Austin, WideOpenWest made a presentation to the city,
but it is a "half-step behind" Western Integrated, which already applied for a
franchise, director of telecommunications and regulatory affairs Michael D. Parks said.
"But there's nothing wrong with my cable
customers having two or three choices," he added.