NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Competition, Technology Equal Greater Service

March 28, 2000

Competition and advanced technology will soon provide some Texas residents choices of providers for cable television, high-speed Internet access, and local and long-distance telephone services.

Fort Worth will become the first city in the U.S. to have AT&T fixed wireless service widely available. Fixed wireless, which is similar to cellular phone technology, allows transmission of signals between home antennae and locally installed towers, which then connect the signal to national communications networks.

  • The systems can accommodate local and long distance phone service and high-speed Internet access.
  • The quality of high-speed Internet access will be comparable to DSL and cable modem alternatives.
  • The connections can be made without stringing wires to individual homes, making AT&T less dependent on local phone companies to gain access to customers, and giving it the ability to reach customers who are out of range for DSL or modem cable service.

"If this thing works, is should set off a major-league panic among the local phone companies," says telecommunications analyst John Bain.

Meanwhile,in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, the city council will allow two companies to offer services to consumers along with AT&T Cable Services -- the incumbent monopoly cable television provider. Specifically, the council will allow Western Integrated Networks and WideOpen West to use public rights-of-way to build systems for cable, Internet and telephone service.

  • If the companies are successful in building networks, bundling services will help control costs.
  • In return for use of the rights-of-way, the city of Grand Prairie will receive five percent of all revenues generated by the franchisees.
  • WideOpen West, a Denver-based Internet company, is already in negotiations with cities across Texas to provide bundled services.

Thus consumers will soon be able to choose between satellite, cable, wireless and broadcast systems for a variety of entertainment and communication services -- fulfilling one of the goals of telecommunications deregulation.

Source: Editorial, "Competition," Arlington Morning News, March 25, 2000, and Lila LaHood, "AT&T to Debut Antenna System," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 22, 2000.


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