CO: Qwest changes course on cable franchise agreements

Posted on December 20, 2007 - 4:44pm.

from: Denver Business Journal

Qwest changes course on cable franchise agreements
Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 10:57 AM MST

Qwest Communications International Inc. no longer will pursue cable franchise agreements with Colorado cities or build communitywide TV service in areas where it's recently won franchise approval.

CEO Edward Mueller, in a Dec. 17 announcement about Qwest strategy, said the Denver-based company (NYSE: Q) plans to upgrade its broadband capacity in 10 major markets and 10 smallers ones in the company's 14-state service area.

But the company won't fill that increased bandwidth with its own digital television, known as ChoiceTV. Instead, Qwest plans to continue, if not deepen, its partnership with satellite television provider DirecTV in order to offer television for its voice, video and Internet bundle, he said.

Under Mueller's predecessor, Dick Notebaert, Qwest tried in early 2007 to push Colorado legislators to create a statewide television franchise, which would have eliminated the need to win city-by-city franchise rights, as cable companies have done.

Qwest still supports political reform of cable television franchising in Colorado, spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said. But it won't seek such a franchise in the foreseeable future.

The company is limiting expansion of its own television service solely to new housing developments where it's building fiber optic to each home and is the television provider through the neighborhood homeowners' association, Barton said. Qwest has such an arrangement with the Ridgegate subdivision being built in Lone Tree and in a handful of other areas.

The new strategy means ending franchise agreement negotiations Qwest has started with cities, such as Arvada, and not building communitywide Internet television capability in places such as Portland, Ore., where it already had won franchise rights.

( categories: COLORADO | Qwest | State Franchises )