Originally created 12/01/99

Knology announces merger



Knology Holdings, a Georgia-based cable television company, has merged with four other ITC Holding Co. subsidiaries, the company announced Monday.

The new company will be called Knology Inc.

The move positions the company to expand into new markets in the Southeast and offer new services, Knology Chief Executive Officer Rodger L. Johnson said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Johnson would not discuss specific cities and products.

"This has been in the works for the better part of a year," he added.

Knology has been building a $50 million fiber optic ring around Augusta to offer residents cable television, telephone and high-speed Internet service. It is hoping to compete with Comcast, formerly Jones Intercable.

The merger more closely ties ITC's telephone companies -- Interstate Telephone Co., Valley Telephone Co., Globe Telecommunications and ITC Globe -- to its cable television interests.

The move is consistent with the telecommunication group's strategy to offer telephone, cable and Internet services with the same company, Mr. Johnson said.

"This merger strengthens an already powerful group of companies," ITC Chairman Campbell B. Lanier III said in the announcement. "The management groups and employees will combine their knowledge and expertise to focus on common goals."

The merger became effective Nov. 23.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, however, the company did not release a statement about the deal until Monday, company spokeswoman Darenda Hugley said.

No layoffs are expected, she said.

A privately-held company, ITC Holdings is based in West Point, Ga.

It has interests in several companies, including MindSpring Enterprises, an Internet service provider; ITC Deltacom, a local and long-distance telephone carrier; InterCall, a teleconferencing service; InView, a videoconferencing service; and Powertel, a wireless telephone provider.

Knology, which began in 1994, has been buying existing cable companies and building new systems in secondary cities throughout the Southeast. Plans call for rapid expansion within the next seven years.

Mr. Johnson said the company is likely to expand into a new market early next year. He declined to say whether it would be buying an existing system or building a new one.

Knology's strategy so far has been to pick up customers dissatisfied with competing cable companies and offer cable television, long-distance and local telephone, and high-speed Internet service through one broadband communications network. It calls this "bundling."

Technology is so dynamic, it is difficult to imagine what new services the company may offer in the next five years, Mr. Johnson said.

"The Internet wasn't even here a few short years ago," he said. "Now look at it."

Reach Frank Witsil at (706) 823-3352.