Readers: This is part of an ongoing series of updates on what happened to the AT&T U-verse rollout in Orange County. The company said in July that it was halting expansion in seven O.C. cities. I’m talking to each city so keep checking back for updates!
- Will every house in San Clemente be able to order AT&T U-verse? If not, why not?
- What is the proposed timeline for TV service?
- Where does AT&T already offer DSL service in the city? Show me, on a map.
All good questions that I’d like answers to myself. These questions — the above three summarized by me — were part of a 16-question questionnaire the city of San Clemente gave AT&T in February 2007 after AT&T inquired about offering its new U-verse TV service to residents.
“We sent them a questionnaire when they submitted a permit and they never responded back,” said Bill Cameron, San Clemente’s city engineer told me in an interview last month. “We want to know what the impacts are.”
Consumers in Orange County and elsewhere seem desperate for an alternative TV service. And traditional telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon began offering a full cable-TV like option two years ago with U-verse and FiOS. But roll out has been slow, leaving consumers frustrated. But do consumers really want the service? Verizon pulled back earlier this year, blaming competitors who started offering cheaper deals.
|More on the U-verse impasse|
AT&T still believes consumers want the service but it has moved on to other cities. It blames the inability to quickly get city permits approved, at least in the seven Orange County cities.
San Clemente’s set of questions to AT&T sought some simple answers, such as the dimensions of the new utility cabinets. But others required more research. See the questions yourself at “San Clemente’s 16 questions for AT&T U-verse“ (PDF).
A major issue, which AT&T has heard pretty much everywhere else: San Clemente doesn’t want more large utility boxes decorating sidewalks in the community.
“Everybody (utility companies) wants to put them above ground and our community is interested in putting them below ground. Ultimately, we’re working with them so that they can upgrade and replace existing lines,” Cameron said.
But AT&T decided to pull out of San Clemente, possibly after receiving that 16-question questionnaire.
I’ve communicated many times with AT&T spokesman H. Gordon Diamond, who doesn’t want to respond to city-by-city issues. But what San Clemente is asking for is nothing new — and it’s information that Diamond would probably tell me AT&T has already answered for the city.
AT&T has repeatedly explained its case to all cities. In 220 cities statewide, there were no issues and AT&T offers TV service there. But here in San Clemente — as well as Cypress, Dana Point, Irvine, Lake Forest, Newport Beach and Tustin – hassles with city permits made AT&T decide in July to end expansion of TV service in the community.
AT&T’s method of getting U-verse TV service to customers is through a mix of new fiber-optic cables and older copper wires. Part of this requires that a new utility cabinet be built near existing AT&T phone lines and near electricity. Because of the electronics inside, the cabinets must be above ground when built in residential communities. While there is some flexibility on the box’s exact location so it needn’t sit on someone’s front lawn, all new cabinets must be built above ground — not below.
“We weren’t sure if they were planning to replace their telephone (cabinets) or enlarge them for TV use. We want to make sure it’s compatible with our city policies,” Cameron said.
To express your concern with the issue, residents can contact the city’s elected officials. City contact information is posted HERE.
More U-Verse news:
Check out the Gadgetress Guide to local TV services