California's Fiber-Optic Fiasco
Year by Year: A Plan that
(A timeline of Pacific
Bell's California First plan.)
- November 1993: Pacific Bell
unveils plans to spend $16 billion over seven years to
upgrade its California network to handle interactive
services like home shopping and compete against cable
companies with video channelsand movies-on-demand.
- May 1994: (NNI NOTE: by 2000, 6
million households.) PacBell begins network construction
in Pacific Beach and Mira Mesa in San Diego. Construction
also begins in San Jose and in Orange and Los Angeles
- October 1994: City of San Diego
considers proposal to require that Pacific Bell pay
franchise fees and abide by other requirements imposed on
cable companies if it gets into the video business.
- October 1994: Pacific Telesis,
Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. form Tele-TV, a joint
venture to provide the companies with video programming,
entertainment and information to sell to residents.
- January 1995: PacBell and city of
San Diego sign "landmark" agreement, with PacBell
pledging to give the city 5 percent of gross revenues
from voice, video and data services sold over new
network. City agrees not to regulate PacBell as a cable
- April 1995: PacBell buys Cross
Country Wireless Inc. and announces plans to offer
"wireless cable" service to 5 million-customer service
area covering San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles and
- NNI UPDATE: September 1995:
Alternate Regulation is granted to Pacific Bell.
- September 1995: PacBell slows
network construction to save $1 billion in capital costs
over five years for statewide project, but accelerates
network construction in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- January 1996: PacBell halts
fiber/coaxial network construction in Los Angeles County.
Network projects continue in San Diego, San Jose and
Orange County (briefly).
- April 1996: SBC Communications of
Texas signs deal to buy Pacific Telesis.
- May 1996: Network construction
halted in Orange County.
- June 1996: San Jose City Council
awards PacBell a cable franchise, giving the company
official standing as cable operator.
- September 1996: PacBell begins
selling video service in San Jose over its new network.
- April 1997: SBC's purchase of
Pacific Telesis becomes final.
- April 1997: Tele-TV, jointly owned
by Bell Atlantic Corp., Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis
Group, cuts staff in half and abandons all joint video
projects in favor of individual company efforts.
- May 1997: PacBell launches
'wireless cable' service in Los Angeles and Orange
- June 1997: SBC abandons almost all
attempts to compete with cable, announcing immediate ends
to Pac Bell's video network project as well as a smaller
test in Texas. The decision halts construction in San
Diego and pulls the plug on 8,000 PacBell cable customers
in San Jose. SBC writes off $500 million investment in
- November 1997: PacBell sends out
requests for bids on various components of the partially
built video network.
- NNI UPDATE: July 2001: The
California ISP Association files formal complaint about
Source: "PacBell's video bid
proving more costly," Elizabeth Douglass, San Diego Union
Tribune, Feb. 1, 1998, Page I-1.