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Springs 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 services.

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 competition.

Ward said the Denver telco hasn't given up on Colorado Springs.

"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

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_4793190,00.html