thwarts Qwest's TV bid
Telco told it must serve city, not neighborhoods
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Colorado Springs is one of the latest cities to put up a
roadblock to Qwest Communications' plans to offer video
services in the neighborhoods it chooses. A city official
notified Qwest Colorado President Chuck Ward this month that
a cable-TV franchise would have to adhere to the current
Adelphia/Comcast agreement requiring services to be offered
in the entire city.
"This system must be available to all citizens within
Colorado Springs and must be voted upon by this same
citizenry," wrote Ron Cousar, director of internal support
Cousar said the Colorado Springs City Council made the
decision in a closed-door session in May. He said Falcon
Broadband, also interested in providing video services in
select subdivisions, was told the same thing.
Ward said he would have "loved to have gotten a different
answer from the Springs. Obviously, we feel strongly that
competition is . . . going to be a good thing for consumers
and that all the studies of competition in the cable market
have indicated prices for consumers will be better."
He cited a General Accounting Office study that prices
decline in markets where there is head-to-head cable-TV
Ward said the Denver telco hasn't given up on Colorado
"We're going to continue to try to work through this with
the City Council," Ward said. "We think there's a real
opportunity for Colorado Springs to have cable competition,
and Qwest is very interested in figuring out a way to bring
that to the Springs."
Ward said he doesn't want to consider yet what Qwest would
do if Colorado Springs holds to its current position.
Cousar did indicate that Colorado Springs would be willing
to negotiate a reasonable build-out provision.
Adelphia spokesman Paul Jacobson said it's only fair Qwest
would have to follow the same conditions as the Greenwood
Village-based cable-TV provider, rather than being allowed
to cherry-pick neighborhoods.
"We certainly welcome competition, we just want it to be on
a level playing field," Jacobson said. "We already face
strong competition from satellite (TV)."
Jacobson said Adelphia has about 100,000 cable-TV
subscribers in Colorado Springs. The franchise is part of
the assets being sold to Comcast.
Qwest has been meeting similar resistance in Denver, where
some City Council members said they would be uneasy with the
telco being able to choose where it wants to provide TV
services. Ward said Qwest is trying to schedule another
meeting with Denver city officials.
Qwest got better reception in Salt Lake City this year and
is moving ahead with its video plans there, Ward said.
smithje@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-5155