Archive for Thursday, January 9, 2003

Broadband company seeking to provide service to De Soto

January 9, 2003

The city of De Soto will soon start negotiations with a telecommunications company that is seeking to provide cable TV, high-speed Internet and local and telephone service that would rid local customers of the detested metro phone fee.

City Administrator Greg Johnson said the city planned to enter into negotiations with Everest Connections this month to develop a franchise agreement that would allow the company to operate in the city.

"They are a growing force in the metro area," he said.

Everest spokeswoman Mary Amundsen said Everest started in Lenexa, the site of its technology center, and has since expanded to provide service into Overland Park, Shawnee and south Kansas City, Kan. It has developed franchise agreements with the cities of Merriam and Leawood, she said.

"We are pursuing franchise agreements for both cable television and telecom services with the city of De Soto," she said. "That process does take time, We don't a timetable of we we would provide service in that area.'

Johnson said company representatives had preliminary discussions with the city in November.

"It was my impression they needed to do additional homework," he said. "They saw the potential everybody sees. We stressed the need to look beyond the tree line.

"We have already communicated to them we do want the entire city served, particularly south of K-10 without cable TV service."

That will be one of the issues in negotiations, Johnson said. Everest has indicated it would phase in service to De Soto. The city is looking for the company to commit to a schedule, he said.

Other points of negotiation will be the amount of franchise fees the city charges the company and easement management, Johnson said.

Additional telecommunications options would benefit the city's economic development efforts, Johnson said. He said De Soto customers should benefit from the added competition for cable TV and Internet service.

"The door was opened for increased competition in 1996 when Congress passed the Telecommunications Act," he said. "It's been slow in coming to some parts of the country. I was in the Chicago area soon after it passed where we saw an immediate impact in terms of cable TV bills of as much as $10 a month."

Because Everest owns its lines it can provide phone service without the monthly metro fee Southwestern Bell charges for free calls to Shawnee, Olathe, Overland Park and other destinations in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Johnson said. The line costs residential customers $25 extra monthly and business customers $45.

"That could provide the incentive for the incumbent provider to change their practices," he said.

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