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CO: Qwest Holds Off on State Cable

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Created 03/25/2007 - 4:44pm

From: The Gazette [1]

Note: Qwest pins it's hopes on the FCC video franchise ruling

Qwest Holds Off on State Cable

March 22, 2007
By Wayne Heilman

Qwest Communications International Inc. has halted any further talks in Colorado about cable television franchises until new federal rules are enacted.

Charles Ward, president of Qwest’s Colorado operations, said Tuesday that the Denver-based telecommunications giant is awaiting final approval of new Federal Communications Commission rules making it easier for providers to win franchises.

Qwest broke off talks with Colorado Springs in September over whether the company should pay a higher customer fee to the city —32 cents a month — than Comcast Corp. now pays in exchange for the city’s dropping a requirement that Qwest’s system be available to all residents.

Legislators killed a bill last month that would have allowed Qwest and other potential providers to bypass agreements with cities and seek a statewide franchise through the Colorado Public Utili- ties Commission without having to serve all residents.

The FCC rule, which was adopted in December and could take effect late next month, requires local governments to speed up the franchise-approval process, cap fees paid by new entrants and ease requirements that competitors build systems that serve all residents.

“We are willing to continue negotiating, but there are impasse points where we have to wait for the (FCC) order to take effect,” Ward said. “We are still looking at the best way to take advantage of the business opportunities available to us.”

Qwest is bidding to provide television and other telecommunications services to the Banning-Lewis Ranch in eastern Colorado Springs and to other developments across the state, Ward told members of the city’s Telecommunications Policy Advisory Committee.

Voters approved a cable franchise in November for Falcon Broadband Inc., and a similar agreement with Porchlight Communications Inc. is on the April 3 ballot. Falcon officials say they plan to connect the company’s first customers in the city by May.

Qwest now provides television service in Colorado only in parts of Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch in the Denver area. Elsewhere in the state, Qwest resells satellite television as part of a package that includes telephone service and Internet access.

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