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Conn. May Force SBC SNET to Open Plant

State regulators in Connecticut have issued a preliminary decision that could compel SBC SNET to rent its former cable plant to Gemini Networks, a competitive wholesaler based in Hartford.

Gemini petitioned the Department of Public Utility Control there, arguing that the 3,000-mile cable plant represents unbundled network elements.

SBC SNET, a division of SBC Communications Inc., shut down its unprofitable cable operation in 2001 and since then, it has rebuffed bids by competitors to buy or rent the plant.

SNET has until Dec. 10 to comment on the draft decision. A final decision will not be made until Dec. 17, DPUC spokesman Beryl Lyons said.

Rich Rowlenson, vice president and general counsel of Gemini, said the company -- which wholesales broadband access to a small number of customers in Hartford -- is very pleased with the decision.

The company would initially like to wholesale telephone and Internet services via the SNET plant. Gemini would have to obtain a state license to deliver cable, which it has not pursued, Rowlenson said.