U-verse growth in Wheaton, Ill. stifled by size of utility cabinets

The size and placement of utility cabinets needed to deliver AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse service throughout a community is again slowing the service's expansion. This time it's Wheaton, Ill., where city fathers are concerned that AT&T might want to "park one of these boxes in somebody's front yard."

That viewpoint, expressed by North District Councilman Phil Suess, led the Wheaton City Council to delay a decision on whether or not AT&T can expand U-verse throughout the community.

"I want to understand how this works," Suess said, according to a report in the Daily Herald. "Forget the zoning. You're basically parking one of these boxes in someone's front yard and I don't think we should be doing that."

City Manager Don Rose pointed out that the boxes "almost meet" current city regulations and that they've shrunk from "very large size to medium large size." But the council was still concerned enough to postpone action until Aug. 5 where, the newspaper reported, the zoning is likely to be amended in AT&T's favor.

It's not as if this is a new issue for the suburban Chicago community. AT&T has been asking to put boxes on city rights-of-way since 2005 and even has four utility cabinets already in place. Things haven't been smooth: The city passed a moratorium on above-ground utilities, AT&T sued and dropped the suit in 2009.

Right now, without the 11 additional units AT&T is seeking to place, only some residents have access to U-verse, a situation that Mayor Michael Gresk said has "run its course."

"You do get AT&T U-verse in certain parts of the town but only in very few homes. Its time has come," the mayor said in the article.

This is not the first time U-verse expansion has been stifled by a community's concerns over equipment appearance. Last year a rancorous fight between the carrier and San Francisco ended in a ruling by Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson, who said the service provider had the right to install 726 U-verse utility boxes on the city's sidewalks.

In Wheaton, it's more about front lawns, though, than sidewalks and that's why, before the meeting, the city council wants to "make sure they have a legal definition of a front yard," the story said.

For more:
- The Daily Herald has this story

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AT&T exec: 'We're going to expand U-verse'
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