In the latest joust between AT&T Broadband and Jacksonville, Fla., over
the cable operator's franchise license, the cable operator defended itself
Wednesday and reiterated its desire to settle with the city.
"The past two months have been frustrating, challenging and, unfortunately
unproductive," Ellen Filipiak, senior vice president of AT&T Broadband's
Florida division, said in a conference call with reporters. "AT&T Broadband
has owned up to its issues, negotiated in good faith and agreed to a settlement
to compensate for the mistakes."
Citing spotty customer service and slow system upgrades, Jacksonville has
threatened to take back the MSO's franchise.
The two sides appeared to have a deal in June, with AT&T Broadband agreeing to a $2
million settlement that would reimburse subscribers about $7 each, delay a rate
increase and speed up system upgrades. But the agreement never closed.
Among the sticky points, AT&T Broadband said, is Jacksonville's
unwillingness to stay neutral in a separate class-action lawsuit. Jacksonville
officials do not want AT&T Broadband to use a settlement with the city as grounds
against a class-action case. Filipiak said: "AT&T believes negotiations with
the city and defense of lawsuit are separate issues."
While the door is still open for discussions, she warned that the settlement offer
is off if the City Council votes to take away the MSO's franchise.
"The city should expect a protracted court fight," she added.
It is rare occurrence for a city to revoke a cable operator's franchise.
AT&T Broadband counts about 250,000 customers in north