Florida County Rejects AT& T Proposal

Officials in Broward County, Fla., which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale, rejected a bid by AT& T-owned local companies to become exclusive providers of Internet service in the area.

The Broward County Commission voted 4-3 on Monday to make AT& T-owned local cable providers offer competing Internet service providers access to their cable lines.

The county is served by cable operator Media One, which recently was acquired by AT& T. MediaOne's widespread presence in Broward County was the main reason the commission voted for open access, said said Ilene Lieberman, commission chairwoman. Otherwise, it would have given AT& T a monopoly on telephone and cable services in the area, she said.

"It was a not a vote against AT& T but rather a vote in favor of protecting consumer choice," she said. "The ultimate decision as to who they buy service from is up to the consumer."

As a stipulation in its recent cable company purchases, AT& T was required to obtain local officials' permission to transfer ownership of local cable franchises.

Last year Portland, Ore. became the first community to dismiss an AT& T sole-service plan when officials there rejected the telecommunications giant's bid and voted to allow rival service providers access to existing cable lines.

Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco also are debating the sole-service issue.

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