AT&T plans nearly $3 billion in upgrades to TCI network | CraigDailyPress.com

AT&T plans nearly $3 billion in upgrades to TCI network

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Denver — AT&T Broadband and Internet Services said work on upgrading the TCI network to provide television, phone service and Internet access is not in trouble despite the departure of CEO Leo Hindery. — AT&T Broadband and Internet Services said work on upgrading the TCI network to provide television, phone service and Internet access is not in trouble despite the departure of CEO Leo Hindery.

— AT&T Broadband and Internet Services said work on upgrading the TCI network to provide television, phone service and Internet access is not in trouble despite the departure of CEO Leo Hindery.

AT&T is continuing the system upgrades on the TCI network it acquired this year and plans for most of them to be completed by the end of next year.

AT&T is spending $2.2 billion to move fiber optic lines closer to customers, another $409 million to prepare for telephone service and $291 million to provide back-up power for telephones, executives said Thursday.

”What we need to do in our business is functionally deliver to our customers what we promised,” said Dan Somers, chief executive officer of the AT&T cable empire. ”This game is going to be won on the streets of America.”

Hindery was the chief quarterback of the strategy to transform the TCI network into the pipelines for phone calls and Internet services.

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He resigned Oct. 6 to ”pursue other interests.”

In the five weeks since, Somers, AT&T’s chief financial officer who took over for Hindery, said he has stressed bringing a clearer focus to achieve the ambitious rollout of new services.

AT&T has invested roughly $110 billion in buying TCI and fellow metro Denver cable giant MediaOne in a deal still pending approvals.

But Somers pointed out that roughly half that cost is in assets held by the two companies separate from their core cable operations.

”This is not a $110 billion bet, this is a $60 billion bet,” Somers said.

Wiring each house that the cable systems pass to get them ready for the two-way services will cost about $2,200, Somers predicted.

”No one says it’s going to be easy to do what we say, but we do have the plans in place to scale this company and this business,” he said.

AT&T has launched local phone service in eight test markets, including Aurora.

AT&T has more than 113,000 high-speed data customers so far.

AT&T has signed up 1.7 million digital cable customers who use set-top boxes providing added channels and the potential for some new interactive services.

By next Christmas, a new generation of boxes known as the DCT 5000 will be widely available in retail stores bringing many interactive functions to television sets, from e-mail and chatting to advertisements.