Readers: This is part of an ongoing series of updates on what happened to the AT&T U-verse rollout in Orange County. So keep checking back!
Finding out exactly why AT&T’s U-verse TV and speedy Internet service hit a roadblock in several Orange County cities may be more difficult than moving to a town that offers the service.
After AT&T said earlier this week that it stopped pursuing permits in seven Orange County cities – Cypress, Dana Point, Irvine, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, San Clemente and Tustin – because it kept getting rejected, I decided to check with each city to find out what gives. Next stop: Irvine.
The city had me go through Craig Reem, its director of public affairs and communications. Via e-mail.
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Irvine happens to be one of the cities that has already let some U-verse through. Some new neighborhoods even got the superior “Fiber to the Home” treatment, which allows AT&T to offer TV and Internet over fiber-optic technology all the way to a person’s house (most U-verse users have what I call “Fiber to the Sidewalk,” which is cheaper for AT&T since it runs fiber to a box on the sidewalk and copper wires to the user’s home).
But availability of the alternative TV service in Irvine is spotty.
Reem cited the same reason for U-verse stagnation that I’ve heard from other cities: The city wants those big boxes built underground. But it appears the city is willing to be somewhat flexible — it already has “more than 200 boxes in the public right-of-way in the city of Irvine,” Reem said.
Yes, we’re going in circles here.
Cities are saying they haven’t rejected AT&T. They’re waiting to hear AT&T response to their requirements.
But AT&T is telling me that it’s repeatedly explained its case with the cities as to why the equipment needs to be above ground (to maintain and protect the electronics inside), why it doesn’t interfere with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements (AT&T isn’t putting these in the middle of sidewalks) and why it is California Environmental Quality Act friendly (U-verse is in 220 communities in California who didn’t have a problem).
Hence, an exasperated AT&T has walked away.
Obviously, there’s some disconnect between the two. And unfortunately for consumers seeking a TV alternative, this means no more new U-verse expansion in those cities.
Reem does add that if Irvine residents want their opinions heard, they can comment during any public-comment portion of weekly City Council meetings, or make an appointment to talk to Mayor Sukhee Kang, who provides a “Meet the Mayor” one-on-one meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays. Irvine residents can call 949.724-6233 to make an appointment.
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