protests Qwest cable plan
Provider says rival has an unfair advantage; meeting is
Deseret Morning News
Thursday, November 17, 2005
UTAH - Comcast officials urged the Salt Lake City Council
this week to take a little more time before allowing Qwest
to get a foothold in the Salt Lake cable market.
Qwest, the dominant phone provider in the city, wants to
break in as a cable provider and has asked the city to allow
it to forgo build-out rules requiring it to cover the entire
city before it can provide cable service to any one region.
But Ray Child at Comcast said that "cherry-picking"
allowance gives the cable newcomer an unfair advantage that
Comcast did not have when building up its cable customer
"A company might go to certain neighborhoods where they
could get the quickest return on their investment," said
Child, director of public relations for Comcast. "If you
want a franchise in Salt Lake City, you commit to serve that
The Salt Lake City Council is set to decide whether to grant
a franchise agreement to Qwest tonight. Comcast
representatives have also said that the City Council did not
give enough public notice about the agreement. Comcast
first heard of the proposal to let Qwest in on the cable
market last week.
Comcast was subject to a citywide build-out requirement when
it first offered cable to Salt Lake, Child said. Recently,
the group finished a $350 million upgrade that was done on a
citywide basis instead of only in the most profitable areas,
Jerry Fenn, Qwest president for Utah, said he believes the
opposition from Comcast is merely a "red-herring" to avoid
new competition. When Comcast wanted to break into the
telephone market, Fenn said it was not held to a citywide
buildout standard because it was the second provider after
"We ought to be able to determine where we serve within the
city based on market demographics. That's fair," Fenn
said. "If we're able to provide television services to the
residents of the city, we think the resident will have real
choice and that will result in lower prices. It's simply an
attempt by Comcast to try to hold on to their monopoly
Having to provide service to the entire city just to get
into the cable market would be an impossibly "high barrier
to entry," Fenn said.
Steve Proper, director of government affairs for Comcast,
said his company is in favor of competition and lower prices
but just wants a level playing field for both companies.
"We face competition every single day. We think that's
good; it makes us stronger and it keeps us on our toes. It
only serves everybody when it's beneficial and fair," he