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Comcast Is Branding AT&T's Old Data Turf

Comcast Corp. has wasted no time in targeting customers of the former AT&T Broadband for cable-modem service.

While the Philadelphia-based MSO is still finalizing the plan for moving its merger partner's former video customers to unified Comcast products and brands sometime in 2003, it has already started to sell Comcast High-Speed Internet service in former Broadband markets.

"The decision was made that the least amount of customers that would have to go through a transition, the better," said Comcast Online senior director of marketing Suzanne McFadden. "So what we tried to do was as quickly as possible after the merger closed [was] to be able to offer Comcast High-Speed Internet."

The existing cable-modem network is still the link, but customers are directed to Comcast's Web portal and utilize its electronic-mail services.

What they are getting is often not what is still advertised. Many of the presold flyers and advertising spots on TV and print still market the service under the old AT&T Broadband name, as with video and telephony products.

"We felt that if we went out there with TV spots that said Comcast High-Speed Internet, but the cable still said AT&T, it would be even more confusing," McFadden said.

With the Comcast service, customers gain an extra e-mail address – from the AT&T Broadband's six to the seven per account Comcast supports — and 25 megabytes of network storage for personal files.

New fees emerge

Former AT&T Broadband customers will eventually move over to the Comcast service and fee structure in 2003. But for a small number of cable modem users in two former AT&T Broadband markets, that fee change is already taking place.

In the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento, Calif. market and in New England, customers who take only cable-modem service will see about a $10 monthly pricing jump as Comcast's bundled pricing structure is applied.

Customers who take video and data will pay $42.95 if they own their modem or $45.95 if they lease, virtually unchanged from AT&T Broadband's rates. But if they take only data, they will pay $57.95 or $60.95, respectively.

Data-only customers constitute a small portion of the total Comcast subscriber base — Comcast won't release exact figures — so the change is not likely to affect many, McFadden said.

McFadden said each system will decide whether to move now to Comcast's pricing structure or wait until all data customers are shifted in 2003.