Readers: This is the first of several updates on what happened to the U-verse rollout in Orange County. I’ll be updating the blog after checking in with various cities. So keep checking back!
Cypress is one lucky Orange County city. It’s one of the few cities in the county where both Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse want to expand their TV service.
But while Cypress was one of Verizon’s launch cities in 2007, the FiOS rollout has been on hold, according to city officials. And as we learned Monday, AT&T has given up on applying for needed permits because of hassles it faced during the process (read: “AT&T U-verse comes to a halt in Irvine, 6 other O.C. cities“).
|The U-verse impasse|
“Their arguments have been about aesthetics even though the cabinets are no different than any others we have placed in the public right of way,” said H. Gordon Diamond, with AT&T Public Affairs, in response to why seven Orange County cities — Irvine, Cypress, Dana Point, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, San Clemente and Tustin — are now off the U-verse expansion list.
“To date, we have been successful in working with more than 230 other California cities on our upgrade to bring next-generation services to their residents,” Diamond said.
The big white cabinets that need to be installed on sidewalks within a city were the target of an anti-U-verse campaign last year by Comcast, but that’s to be expected. Comcast is a cable TV provider that is only trying to keep its own subscribers from bolting to an alternative.
Alvin Papa, a senior civil engineer for Cypress, confirmed that aesthetics may have been one factor for the U-verse pull out. However, he said he hadn’t heard about AT&T dropping its pursuit of needed permits. In fact, it was his understanding that the process may be starting up again.
“They made a submittal, we gave them plan-check requirements. And we also had a community meeting (last winter) and we basically addressed the community’s comments and sent it back to AT&T and since then, we really haven’t heard much,” Papa said. “No, we haven’t officially said no. We’ve been working with them the whole time. Yes (the city would approve the permits), if AT&T meets all the requirements, much of it was pretty much standard.”
Papa said that aesthetics was a factor for the community and the city.
“Our biggest concern is that they’re going to put all these boxes in our street and in our right of way. We just want to make sure they are not put in front of people’s houses and they don’t adversely affect the aesthetic of our community and they have the proper maintenance in place. It’s pretty standard stuff that other communities require.”
Similarly, Verizon Fios informed the city that it was putting its TV installation on hold until further notice, which echoes a previous story about Verizon slowing down in Southern California (read: “Verizon’s FiOS TV rollout slows in So Cal“).
“It’s been awhile. I last checked with them in January this year,” he said. An e-mail from the company said, “‘Due to the economy, Verizon is going to hold off for now.’ The earliest they were going to start again was sometime this year.”
Papa used to check in with Verizon monthly. Now he checks every other month.
“People ask every now and then and I give them the same answer I give you,” Papa said. “It was going for a while but when the economy started going bad, it sort of got quiet.”
Earlier U-Verse news: