Janesville54.3°

AT&T will offer cable alternative

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GINA R. HEINE
April 26, 2008
— AT&T intends to offer an alternative to cable TV in parts of Janesville, Beloit, Evansville and 17 townships in Rock County, though a timeline has not been released, AT&T spokesman Jeff Bentoff said.

"We announce our new market when we enter them," he said. "When we’re prepared to start offering services, we’ll publicly announce it and let affected customers know service is available."


But construction activities in the area are beginning, he said, and an AT&T representative will make a presentation about its Project Lightspeed to the city council at the council’s meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.


Project Lightspeed is the name given to the infrastructure improvements that are needed to increase bandwidth before AT&T can offer its product, U-verse, Bentoff said. U-verse is a 100 percent Internet protocol-based video service. The service will include digital TV, high-speed Internet and digital voice services.


"The main reason we’re offering this product is because consumers have been demanding an alternative to cable," Bentoff said.


In the application AT&T filed for a statewide franchise, it included the Rock County communities of Janesville, Evansville, Beloit and the townships of Janesville, Beloit, Union, Porter, Rock, La Prairie, Fulton, Avon, Bradford, Center, Harmony, Johnstown, Lima, Magnolia, Milton, Plymouth and Turtle as places where it intends to serve.


Bentoff cautioned, however, that the service may only be available in portions of those communities because AT&T can only offer the service to areas that have AT&T phone service.


U-verse debuted in Wisconsin in February 2007, and on Wednesday, AT&T said U-verse TV and Internet services were available to more than 200,000 living units in and around Milwaukee, Racine and Sheboygan.


According to a city memo from Janesville Public Works Director Jack Messer, Project Lightspeed "is a major multi-year initiative" on AT&T’s part to provide video service to customers.


The city requested and is working with AT&T on a public involvement process that would provide proper notification to citizens impacted by the fiber conversion cabinet installation, Messer wrote.


That plan is being developed because city administrators were concerned about how the relatively large and comprehensive proposal would not be adequately covered by the regular permitting process, Messer wrote. Concerns centered around sight distance impacts, impacts on access around sidewalks and how citizens would react to the utility cabinets, which would be 4 feet tall and cover an 8-foot by 10-foot area, potentially in the right of way in front of residential properties.



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