Bell Atlantic Corp. has formally withdrawn its application to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to build advanced video network in Baltimore and five other metropolitan areas, saying it would file a new plan in late 1995 or early 1996.
The company said it has withdrawn its original application because it was now technologically outdated. The decision to withdraw the so-called Section 214 application comes a month after Bell Atlantic asked the commission to put the matter on hold, saying it wanted to re-evaluate the system architecture.
At the time, Bell Atlantic said it was having misgivings about its plans to build a system modeled upon cable television networks -- using both traditional coaxial cable and advanced fiber-optic cable, an architecture known as hybrid fiber-coax.
In making the announcement, the company confirmed that it now expects to employ a more advanced, fully interactive system called switched digital video, which brings the fiber-optic cable closer to the home. The company said that technology, also known as "fiber to the curb" (FTTC), had become more economical in the year since Bell Atlantic first filed the petition.
The switch in technologies moves back the day when Baltimore television viewers can look to Bell Atlantic to provide land-based competition to their local cable company.
The company said that it would begin deploying the network in late 1996 or early 1997, when equipment is expected to become available from manufacturers. But even those estimates, a year later than expected under previously announced plans, are based upon optimistic assumptions on both the technological and regulatory fronts.
Bell Atlantic said that it expects to make its first entry into the video market through the airwaves using a technology called wireless cable. The company, which acquired a stake in a wireless cable company earlier this spring, had previously announced that it expects to provide wireless video service in Baltimore and other Northeastern cities.
At the time of that announcement, company spokesmen estimated the rollout time for wireless cable at one year. Last week's announcement said the systems would be deployed within the next two years.
Bell Atlantic Vice Chairman Larry Babbio said the wireless network would supplement, not replace, the "full service network."
Besides Baltimore, the areas covered by the 214 application are Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Norfolk, Va., and northern New Jersey. The withdrawal does not affect current or planned trials in Northern Virginia or Toms River, N.J.