AT&T backs off on promise to provide high-speed internet access in early 2001

Published July 30, 2001 | Cable Television Committee | Automatically Archived on 9/9/2001

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The following is a press release from the Sudbury Cable Television Committee, April 2001:

After vehemently promising an early 2001 deployment of digital cable and high-speed internet access (HSD) services in Sudbury, Maynard, Acton, Hudson, and Stow for nearly a year, AT&T Broadband (ATTb) has now decided to delay these services until 2002. They are blaming financial limitations for the delay. We in Sudbury believe that ATTb has seriously under-estimated the dissatisfaction and frustration this decision will generate, and believe their decision can be affected by appropriate action.

Over the last year, the Town of Sudbury negotiated a new 10 year license with Cablevision, and a transfer of the Sudbury cable system from Cablevision to AT&T Broadband (ATTb). During this entire process, Cablevision and ATTb representatives enthusiastically promised a prompt rollout of digital cable and high-speed internet access (HSD) in Sudbury by early 2001. They have virtually completed upgrading Sudbury’s cable infrastructure to support these new services, and we in Sudbury have been led to believe that these services would be available to us before this summer. The high-speed internet service is particularly important in Sudbury because we have poor phone lines, and no CATV competition. Thus, ATTb’s HSD service was going to be the only option for high-speed data for Sudbury residences and businesses.

However, at our regular March 13th Cable Committee Meeting, the Sudbury Cable Committee was informed that ATTb has now decided to delay the rollout of digital cable and high-speed internet access (HSD) in Sudbury until early 2002. Considering all the promises made by ATTb representatives during the last several months, the Cable Committee considers this delay to be in bad faith and unacceptable. With no other options for high-speed Internet access available to residents or businesses anytime soon, this is a real loss for our Town.

ATTb’s decision was explained to us as follows: They have many demands on their 2000 capital budget, and so they have had to prioritize. Their highest priority is the consolidation of their customer service organizations, followed by their contractual license requirements (such as commitments to Sudbury to construct an I-net and upgrade the equipment in our studio). Next, they want to continue to invest in communities where HSD and digital cable have already been deployed. As a result, they have decided to defer rollout of HSD anddigital cable in communities in this area (Acton, Stow, Maynard, and Hudson are also affected) until at least next year. They conceded that over 90% of the capital investment
required to deploy these services in Sudbury has already been made. All that is left is a few hundred thousand dollars of head-end equipment, and the premises equipment (the cost of which is typically reclaimed within a few months).

Although the Cable Committee understands ATTb’s priorities, we believe that they could extend their capital budget to fulfill the promises they made so determinedly last year. Unfortunately, because they are planning a spin-off of the ATTb unit this year, we believe they are deferring capital spending to improve their balance sheets. With the only local competition being satellite, they have no overriding financial reason to provide new services this year, and apparently they believe the lost business and public outcry will be manageable. Thus, they have little incentive to degrade their financials in order to satisfy their customers.

We believe that ATTb’s decision is not cast in stone, and may be influenced by appropriate feedback from the affected subscribers. We are suggesting that residents express their opinions to the parties listed below. It is our hope that such action will affect their priorities for 2001, or at least give our needs higher priority in 2002. We also request that people contacting ATTb also cc: the Cable Committee at the address below so that we have proof of your response.


Sincerely,

Jeff Winston, Chairman
Sudbury Cable Television Committee


David Grain, Vice-President for Northeast Region
AT&T Broadband
Riverbend Business Park
6 Campanelli Drive
Andover, MA 01810
978 683 5500
[email protected].

Rob Travers, Director of Government Relations
AT&T Broadband
4 Liberty Way
Westford, MA 01886
978 692 1906 x3080
[email protected].

Andrea Nixon
Clerk
Cable Television Division
One South Station
Boston, MA 02110
617-305-3580
[email protected].

Please cc:

Sudbury Cable Committee
c/o Board of Selectmen
Town of Sudbury
288 Old Sudbury Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
[email protected].