RealTime IT News

AT&T Chalks Up Two MediaOne License Transfers

The Fresno, Calif., City Council and the Richmond, Va., City Council this week approved the transfers of MediaOne's cable licenses to AT&T Corp.

The Richmond, Virginia City Council late Tuesday unanimously approved the transfer of MediaOne's (UMG) cable license to AT&T (T), while the Fresno City Council approve the license transfer in a 4 to 2 vote.

According to AT&T the approvals pave the way for the telecommunications giant and MediaOne to continue their plans to upgrade the both municipalities cable networks.

Cindy Daly, AT&T vice president local government relations in California, applauded the Fresno City Counsil and said their decision was a win-win for all consumers in the area.

"Fresno joins more than 25 cities in the Central Valley which welcome and embrace competition in local telephone service and high-speed Internet access," Daly said. "Consumers are the real winners today."

Ken Dye, MediaOne general manager in Richmond, said the community would benefit from advanced high-speed service deployment to the area.

"Members of the council made the right choice for the City and for consumers," Dye said. "Now we can ramp up quickly to deliver advanced services, like digital telephone and high-speed cable modem services, to all consumers in Richmond."

Since December, Local authorities in Portland, Ore., St. Louis, Fairfax, Va., Broward County Fla., and several other communities have placed terms form open access to cable networks as a rider to transferring the licenses.

In order to complete the transfer of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCOMP) licenses, AT&T had to transfer more than 950 local cable licenses.

Last May, AT&T reached an agreement to purchase MediaOne. Currently, AT&T is in the process of transferring some 650 MediaOne cable licenses nationwide. Local government officials must approve of each transfer to AT&T, which feared that public demands for non-discriminatory access might hamper the MediaOne transfers.

Wilma McCarey, AT&T vice president in Virginia, said that most of the local cable franchise authorities have chosen to approve of the transfers.

"Richmond residents now join consumers in over 1,300 other local communities across the country that have approved cable license transfers to AT&T and who will benefit from competition for local phone service and high-speed Internet access," McCarey said.

The openNET coalition is an organization that represents more than 700 Internet service providers nationwide. The group has lobbied local governments to impose conditions of open access to the AT&T cable license transfers so that consumers would have a choice among different cable modem access providers.

Greg Simon, openNet co-director, alleges that local authorities gave in to AT&T's threats to not deploy cable broadband services to the community.

"Today's action by the members of the Richmond City Council is unfortunate, but it shows just how much the cable industry is bullying and threatening local authorities."

Richmond joins Miami and King County, Wash., official's that have recently decided not to make open access a part of the deal for AT&T to secure their respective local cable franchises.