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Ameritech wants TCI network access

The regional Bell wants access to TCI's network as a requirement of the cable operator's merger with AT&T.

    Regional Bell phone company Ameritech wants access to Tele-Communications Incorporated's network as a requirement of the No. 1 cable operator's merger with AT&T.

    Ameritech was one of 17 companies or organizations that had filed public comments on the proposed purchase of TCI by AT&T last month.

    "There shouldn't be any anti-competitive roadblocks in this merger. They ought to be subject to certain unbundling requirements," said Dave Pachloczyk, an Ameritech spokesman.

    Ameritech executives argue that the Baby Bells must open their local phone markets to competition before they can offer long distance services. Likewise, TCI should open its cable infrastructure to others in areas where it faces no competition.

    "The issue is about regulatory parity with competition as the benchmark," Pachloczyk said. "They basically have a monopoly on that pipe. They ought to open that up to competition."

    Gaining access to TCI's cable infrastructure would help Ameritech New Media, the company's cable television business unit, expand its reach.

    Tuesday, Ameritech reached an agreement with DuPage County, Illinois, to compete for cable TV customers against Time Warner and Jones Intercable in the county's unincorporated areas. That decision is the latest in a series of deals that has helped Ameritech expand its cable TV franchises.

    Ameritech has completed cable TV franchises with 87 cities and towns in the Midwest, including 15 in the Chicago metropolitan area. The company offers its Americast service in more than 70 cities in the same area.

    AT&T expects to complete the TCI purchase by mid-1999.