The phone company AT&T is seeking to bring a new video service to Evanston and other communities across the state.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said at tonight’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting, “We ought to open up our community to any competition we can.”

In a memo, City Manager Julia Carroll said city staff had met with AT&T representatives last year to discuss the video service, but found the terms the company was offering unsatisfactory.

She said the AT&T service requires installation of distribution boxes that are five feet tall by three feet wide. She said one box would be required for every 3,000 feet of service radius and that they likely would have to be placed in the front yard of people’s homes.

“Staff felt that this would be extremely objectionable to the residents from an aesthetics perspective,” Ms. Carroll said in her memo.

She also said the company refused to guarantee that it would extend its service to the entire city.

But Ald. Rianey said, “Every time I talk to anybody in the city, I’ve been told nobody wants to come here” to provide competition for Comcast cable, “because there aren’t the opportunities any more.”

City attorney Herb Hill said the staff plans to meet again with AT&T officials later this week and the aldermen plan to discuss the company’s proposal further at the next Administration and Public Works Committee meeting on Feb. 12.

Update 1/26/07:

The Wall Street Journal reports today that AT&T’s nationwide rollout of the new Internet-based video service is being delayed by glitches with Microsoft software it uses. AT&T officials say the issues are normal with new product development and they expect to have the service in eight-million homes by the end of the year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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