No timetable on when EATEL will bring services to B.R.
EATEL communications manager Trae Russell says "no timetable has yet been determined" for when it will begin offering television, Internet and phone services in East Baton Rouge Parish, following the Metro Council's decision Wednesday to allow the Gonzales-based company to enter the market. "That's like asking an architect, 'What color is the wall?' " he says. "But we'll have every resource available as soon as possible. We're not messing around." Russell says EATEL has begun construction of its network, the first one in the parish composed entirely of fiber. "To build that, especially from scratch, is quite the task," he says, adding that the total size and cost of the network has yet to be determined. Another hurdle remaining is formal approval of a "redline" stipulation ensuring EATEL will conform to state and federal laws against selective offering of services. The stipulation arose after representatives of Cox had accused EATEL of trying to "cherry-pick" its clientele with its original proposal. EATEL denies the allegations, but agreed to compromises in order to get approval. Russell says the parish attorney must approve stipulation language drafted up by EATEL's attorney before Mayor Kip Holden formalizes the agreement. "That is our only paper obstacle," Russell says. The agreement is "a win for all demographic households and businesses in the metro Baton Rouge area," says Cox public affairs manager Sharon Bethea. "We welcome competition," she adds. "We advocated before the Metro Council on a matter of law, and we are pleased with the results." EATEL will also be competing with AT&T in the Baton Rouge market. —Ian McGibboney
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