Cable: Accelerated Plan Calls for Hook-ups
As Early as Next Year
Following last week’s approval of a 15-year cable television franchise agreement with the city of San Diego, Denver-based Western Integrated Networks is now developing detailed construction plans that will be submitted to the city for approval.
Those details include meeting city standards for construction and other concerns the city might have, such as environmental issues.
Western’s entrance marks the first time cable operators will compete in San Diego.
The area south of Interstate 8 , from Point Loma and Ocean Beach to La Mesa’s border at the east, and Highway 54 to the south , is the first area planned for installation. Western plans to be installed throughout San Diego city limits in five years, at an estimated cost of $600 million for the entire project.
Engineering and design for the network has been in the preliminary stages and will now be accelerated, said Bill Mahon, Western’s senior vice president.
Western will also begin coordinating excavation and other permits needed to start actual construction. It could start in 4 & #733; to 6 months, Mahon said.
The first customers could be serviced in a year, but it might be as early as next March, he said.
Western will likely submit the plans as soon as possible, said Marc Jaffe, cable television program manager for San Diego.
The contract that Western signed with the city is very different from the 30-year agreements Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable signed in 1979 and 1980, respectively, Jaffe said.
Western’s contract follows provisions that had been established for cable operators since 1980. The company will pay the city 5 percent of their gross revenues as a franchise fee, similar to rent. The figure fits the limit set in 1984, Jaffe said.
In accordance to the limits set when Cox and Time Warner signed contracts 20 years ago, both companies pay a fee of 3 percent.
The city currently takes in $5.4 million from both operators. The deal with Western could increase that figure by 20 percent, Jaffe said.
He described the difference between the fees as “somewhat problematic” and said the city is looking into it.
Western plans to offer service throughout the country, in what Mahon described as a “multibillion-dollar investment.” The company was originally financed with $500 million and has been securing additional financing since then.
Western’s plans have been approved in Sacramento, and in Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Applications are pending in Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, and Portland, Ore.
In San Diego, Western will immediately begin applying for franchises in the outlying communities, including unincorporated areas of the county, Mahon said.