Bell Atlantic rolls out cable TV details

June 16, 1994|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Sun Staff Writer

Parts of West Baltimore and a swath of suburbs running from Co- lumbia to Cockeysville will be the first Baltimore-area neighborhoods to receive advanced video services over Bell Atlantic lines, the company announced today.

The Philadelphia-based regional telephone company released details of its plans to offer cable television service and on-demand video over its phone lines in a construction-permit filing with the Federal Communications Commission. The services will compete with video rental stores and existing cable television franchises.

Baltimore is one of six urban and suburban areas for which Bell Atlantic released rollout plans for what it calls its "full-service network" today. The announcement did not specify when each neighborhood would begin to receive video, but company executives earlier had said they hoped to start deployment of its Stargazer service here in late 1995.

Bell Atlantic also said it voluntarily would provide free access to the system to local broadcast channels and public, educational and governmental programming. Besides rental movies and cable television, Bell Atlantic said it expects its video offerings to eventually include interactive home shopping, educational courses, health care services and connections to computer networks.

In its announcement, Bell Atlantic also confirmed that its entire full-service network in the Baltimore area will use an architecture which fiber-optic cable will be strung out to each neighborhood and coaxial cable, the same kind used by cable television companies today, will carry the signal into the home. Once in the home, an electronic device would route the signal to the appropriate appliance, whether it be the telephone, television or computer.

The sketchy maps Bell Atlantic released with its FCC filing appeared to show that Cockeysville, Timonium, Towson, Lutherville, Pikesville, Randallstown and Woodlawn would be among the first Baltimore County communities to receive video service. Most of the east county, except for a small pocket around Perry Hall, would have to wait for a later phase.

In West Baltimore, the first areas to get service will include the Edmondson Avenue, Liberty Heights Avenue, Reisterstown Road and Windsor Mill Road corridors. The service also apparently will extend into parts of North and Northeast Baltimore around Hampden, Homewood, Waverly and Northwood.

In Howard County, Columbia, Ellicott City and North Laurel will be in the first phase, while Elkridge and Jessup are not. Carroll, Harford and most of Anne Arundel County lie outside the first-phase areas.

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