looks to expand TV offerings
Comcast wants it held to build-out provisions
By Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Qwest Communications is trying to bring television service
into homes throughout the Denver area, going head to head
with Comcast Corp. The Denver telco is negotiating a
cable-TV model franchise agreement with the Greater Metro
Telecommunications Consortium, which represents 30 metro
governments. Qwest also recently has approached a number of
municipalities individually, including Aurora, Denver and
"Qwest has approached many metro cities (with interest) in a
cable franchise agreement," Darryn Zuehlke,
telecommunications director for the city of Denver and vice
president of the Greater Metro Telecommunications
Consortium, said Friday. "GMTC has a franchise committee
negotiating a model franchise agreement that all of its
members can use."
Comcast said it welcomes competition, but there's a huge
The area's dominant cable TV provider argues Qwest should be
subject to the same build-out provisions that require
Comcast to upgrade its network throughout a community.
"We can't pick and choose," said John Aragon, Comcast's
senior director of government affairs. "If Qwest is able to
pick and choose, that changes the cost structure. They want
to primarily focus on new neighborhoods . . . and affluent
But Qwest, which would offer the video services by upgrading
its existing fiber and copper-wire telephone infrastructure,
argues that as a second provider it shouldn't be subject to
the same build-out provision.
"Second entrants into the phone arena have not been required
to build out their entire network," said Qwest spokeswoman
Carey Madsen. "We feel the same standard (as in the phone
market) should apply to TV services."
Madsen added Qwest already provides satellite TV across its
14-state local phone region through partner DirecTV.
Zuehlke said members of the consortium have concerns about
the build-out provision and so far are requesting it be in
the model agreement.
"We have a responsibility as well to make sure all citizens
have access to the Qwest cable (TV) services," he said.
But the parties, which have had several meetings, are still
"We're hoping to finish it off fairly quickly," Zuehlke
said, because he said Qwest is eager to move forward.
Qwest so far has avoided build-out provisions in other areas
where it is offering video services, including Highlands
Ranch, Lone Tree, Phoenix and Omaha.
On Thursday, over Comcast's objections, Salt Lake City
granted a cable franchise to Qwest without a build-out
provision. Qwest also has started a fiber-to-the-home video
project in a new neighborhood in South Jordan, Utah.
Madsen said Qwest isn't ready to announce new TV markets in
Colorado, "but we want to bring competition to customers as
soon as possible."
She noted the video services will allow customers to
integrate telephone features such as caller ID with their TV
screen, so a viewer can decide whether to take a call.
"Customers appreciate the technology and the benefits it can
bring," Madsen said. "The bottom line for customers is they
want to have a choice in providers."
Comcast said it agrees, as long as there is fair
"We are happy to compete with Qwest if the terms and
conditions of their agreements are the same," said Scott
Binder, Comcast Colorado's senior vice president.
But if Qwest is allowed to cherry pick affluent
neighborhoods, that's a different story, Binder said.
Qwest TV services
Existing neighborhoods in
Highlands Ranch, Phoenix, Omaha: Fiber-optic
cables to the neighborhood, then traditional copper cable
inside a customer's home. Called VDSL.
New neighborhoods such as
RidgeGate in Lone Tree and Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah:
Fiber-optic cable to the home, with the video/data signals
transmitted through the home via an Ethernet connection.
+ 7 cents