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IL: AT$T pushes for state video franchises

By saveaccess
Created 01/30/2007 - 6:02pm

Note: AT&T has been suing many Illinois Communities over the franchise process and telco box placement. Their behavior is that of a 200 billion dollar thug.

"We believe AT&T was trying to create an appearance of negotiation breakdown, to establish a record in support of statewide [and national] franchise law," says Peter Burchard, city manager of Naperville, Ill.

Past articles on AT&T lawsuits in Illinois: [1] [2] [3]

from: Daily Herald [5]

AT&T pushes for state video franchises

By Anna Marie Kukec
Daily Herald Business Writer
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The president of AT&T Illinois said Monday the state needs a video franchising law because its lagging the nation and depriving consumers of choices in services.

Paul LaSchiazza said AT&T has been going town by town to seek approval to upgrade its network to provide more high-speed services, but that process has been “extremely cumbersome” and “just doesn’t work.”

After negotiating with hundreds of municipalities for about 1½ years, only Bellwood, Wayne and North Chicago have allowed the telecom to compete against Comcast Corp.

“There are hundreds of municipalities around Illinois and so far only three have signed agreements with us,” said LaSchiazza. “You do the math. It wouldn’t be in our lifetime to get video services at this rate. Change has to occur.”

LaSchiazza talked with reporters at AT&T’s downtown Chicago headquarters. He wants a new franchise video law that would allow a blanket approval. So far nine states have the new law.

“There’s no timetable,” he said. “It would be driven by what’s happening in the marketplace and in Springfield.”

Wheaton, Wood Dale, Roselle, Geneva, North Aurora, Itasca and Carpentersville are being sued by AT&T for preventing it from upgrading its system. The towns contend AT&T is required to follow the same franchising process as Comcast, pay the same fees for public rights of way, allow for services to all residents regardless of ability to pay and provide local access channels.

AT&T has argued it’s not a cable company and shouldn’t be treated like one. LaSchiazza declined to discuss the lawsuits, but said AT&T intends to move ahead with them.

“We just hope it (a state franchise law) doesn’t detour much from what we’re used to dealing with the local cable operators and what we feel has operated successfully,” said Gary White, media manager for the city of Wheaton.

In other news, AT&T executives said consumers will be able to get satellite-delivered live feeds on Cingular mobile phones later this year. It’s also going to offer more content on its high-speed Internet services. AT&T also has been working with Motorola Inc.’s WiMax to offer more wireless options.

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