WIN May Win Seattle Franchise


The city of Seattle is close to granting Western Integrated Networks LLC a
franchise that will make the Denver-based start-up its third cable operator.

The City Council is expected to vote this week on a 10-year franchise backed
by the Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board that would
allow WIN to compete with AT&T Broadband and Millennium Digital Media for
area cable, high-speed Internet and local phone customers.

WIN already has franchises in such lucrative markets as Dallas, Houston, San
Diego and Sacramento, Calif., with deals pending in Los Angeles and Portland,

Seattle would become one of the few cities with three cable operators. At one
time, it appeared that it would have as many as five telecommunications-service
providers. However, RCN Corp. and WideOpenWest LLC have since put their plans on

Not surprisingly, a City Council staff report warned that nervous capital
markets that are already hampering other overbuilders might prevent WIN from
obtaining sufficient funding to build and equip a $493 million dedicated
fiber-to-the-home network.

'While there are no guarantees that competition will result in lower prices
and better customer service, we expect that competition among providers of
broadband residential services will benefit Seattle consumers,' the staff

Tony Perez, director of the Seattle Cable Office, said the city has already
seen two 'victims of the financial markets,' and it was therefore aware that WIN
'will need additional funding. But we still think they should be given a