Charter acquires cable franchise

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 1999

Cable TV watchers will watch a new cable company come to town.

Friday, November 26, 1999

Cable TV watchers will watch a new cable company come to town. Bresnan Communications has been sold to Charter Communications, a Paul Allen telecommunications company.

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The city council allowed the cable TV franchise to be transferred in a resolution passed Monday. City manager Paul Sparks said that while the industry seems volatile and prone to change, there does not seem to be any reason to prevent the transfer.

&uot;I did have some concern that the upgrades promised by Bresnan would not be completed, but it appears that the current cable company is well on their way to making the changes take place,&uot; Sparks said. &uot;Charter Communications appears to also be interested in making upgrades.&uot;

Bresnan bought the franchise from TCI over a year ago. The company has offices in Austin, Albert Lea and Rochester and all of the business locations are being absorbed by Charter, said Bresnan Communications President Mark Richardson.

&uot;Business was going fine, but the offer was something we couldn’t turn down,&uot; Richardson said. &uot;The employees’ jobs are stable and the change will be a seamless one.&uot;

Paul Allen, the President of Charter Communications, is the co-founder of Microsoft and a close friend of Microsoft President Bill Gates.

Charter Communications is the fourth largest national cable provider following AT&T, Time/Warner, and Comcast, writes Paul R. La Morica of Smart Money Magazine. La Morica writes that as of Nov. 4, Allen was in the process of obtaining three cable providers including Fanch Cablevision, Falcon Communications and Bresnan.

The inclusion of these three companies would mean an estimated 6 million subscribers for Charter.

Richardson said that before the sale, the Bresnan Company was working on an upgrade that would provide subscribers with more channels with better clarity. The upgrade included more fiber optic cable that would provide two-way cable for sending and receiving data. The two-way system would allow subscribers not only to receive their cable television, but also to send and receive information via cable modems over the internet at least 50-100 times faster than before, Richardson said.

Allen has been interested in faster and more global telecommunications and has been making acquisitions to achieve that goal. On the Charter web page Allen writes, &uot;Before Bill Gates and I started Microsoft, we had a vision of a Wired World(TM). Everyone would have a PC at home and at work that would be interconnected within a global network. This network would provide immediate availability to information and resources anywhere in the world.&uot;

The change is expected to come in February. For more information about Charter, visit their web site at Chartercom.com.