Readers: This is part of an ongoing series of updates on what happened to the U-verse rollout in Orange County. So keep checking back!
It’s been a year since the city of Newport Beach last heard from AT&T and its proposed TV service called U-verse. The city, one of seven in Orange County that AT&T has decided to stop pursuing, said that AT&T’s application hasn’t been denied. It’s just incomplete.
Steve Badum, public works director for the city, cited several unresolved issues. A city ordinance requires public utilities to be built underground whenever possible and so far, AT&T hasn’t offered a reason why the large U-verse boxes can’t be built underground.
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Also, AT&T’s permit application offered just a few locations for these boxes. The city’s attorney needs all locations in order to verify whether the project would stand up to the California Environmental Quality Act.
“We haven’t actually denied them. We just said they had an incomplete permit,” Badum said. “Part of the problem they have in older cities is … they are fiber to the node, which requires an additional box next to every distribution box they have. In Newport Beach, a lot of our sidewalks are three-to-four feet wide so putting a box in would cause an ADA (American with Disabilities Act) violation.”
AT&T’s TV and fast Internet service gets to customers over fiber-optic cables that run from AT&T’s hub to these boxes, called nodes, which are strategically placed throughout a city. From there, U-verse service is connected to a customer’s house via the traditional coaxial cable copper wiring (corrected 7/10/09). (Verizon FiOS, comparably, builds fiber cables all the way to a customer’s house, which is called Fiber to the Premises, or FTTP.)
Badum suspects that building these nodes underground may be too costly for the AT&T project but he doesn’t know for sure.
“They never answered why they can’t put it underground. We said tell us why and we can provide an exemption. And they have never given us the information,” he said.
Newport Beach residents can notify the city’s media and communications committee of the City Council about how they feel about the U-verse impasse by e-mailing Tara Finnigan, the public information manager for city hall. To be notified when U-verse is available, sign up HERE.
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