WorldGate Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and the City of LaGrange, Ga. Wednesday launched a broadband that will provide cable households with free Internet
services using set-top boxes.
Located 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, the LaGrange Internet initiative is
the first program of its kind in the country.
The collaborative effort provides residents of LaGrange with WorldGate’s (WGAT) interactive programming, Internet access, e-mail, and chat services at no-cost for at least one year. The WorldGate system offers Internet access over TV through standard Motorola Inc. (MOT) set-top box converters and Charter’s (CHTR) cable infrastructure.
Tom Hall, LaGrange city manager, said the city’s broadband Internet access
program has two priorities, bringing the benefits of the online world to
resident’s living rooms and developing a unique quality of life program for
“Our primary focus is to develop the community’s use of the Internet as an
educational tool,” Hall said. “We’re also in the initial stages of
marketing the city as a quality home for telecommuters.”
In 1998, Charter Communications and the City of LaGrange entered into an
agreement by which the City financed and constructed a state-of-the-art,
two-way hybrid fiber coax network. Through a leaseback agreement with
Charter, LaGrange’s cable network reserved bandwidth to support emerging
technologies for residential and business communication services.
The innovative public-private collaboration allows citizens of LaGrange to enjoy broadband enhanced communications services earlier than
many other communities around the country. Hall said the city’s free cable
access program is scheduled to start installing set-top boxes sometime in June.
Charter Communications subscribers within Troup County, including the
27,000 citizens of LaGrange, can access the Internet through the city’s
cable hybrid system and Charter Pipeline’s Internet service with set-top
boxes for free or subscribe to cable modem services for personal computers
as supported by the city for $39 a month.
Hal Krisbergh, WorldGate chairman and chief executive officer, said the
free cable access program is an essential bridge that shines as an example
of how to span the country’s looming Digital Divide.
“We are very excited to be a part of this incredible opportunity aimed at
empowering an entire community with interactive television and the
Internet,” Krisbergh said.