WINfirst Halts AT&T Overbuild


Facing a capital drain, overbuilder WINfirst said it has stopped construction
of its sole system in Sacramento, Calif., where it wants to compete with
AT&T Broadband.

About 200 of WINfirst's 690 employees were terminated, as the company said it
is now in capital-preservation mode.

'We decided to look at our capital and pace ourselves so we're still around
when the markets rebound,' WINfirst president Frank Casazza said.

Casazza would not say how many homes are currently passed, but a map on the
company's Web site showed that the firm has plant in about one-third of the

WINfirst had budgeted about $500 million for the build, but it is burning
through the funds with a fiber-to-the-home network, which costs between $1,000
and $1,500 per home, according to industry estimates.

Casazza now runs the leaner shop. CEO James Vaughn -- who helped to launch
WINfirst with money he earned from the sale of FrontierVision Partners L.P. --
has moved into a nonparticipating chairman's role, Casazza said.

WINfirst's plan to halt its expansion is a blow to Canal Plus S.A., which is
supplying interactive-TV software to the overbuilder. WINfirst is the French
company's only U.S. affiliate.