Comcast Migrates Subs, Debuts New Portal

Cable-modem customers in former AT&T Broadband territories saw another changing of the data guard last week, when Comcast Corp. began the process of migrating them over to its newly revamped service.

On June 30, customers in the former AT&T Broadband territories who had used the AT&T Broadband Internet-service provider — and had an e-mail address — started moving over to Comcast's service and hooking up their addresses in the domain.

At the same time, Comcast debuted its redesigned Web portal, sporting more video and multimedia and a beefed up games channel, courtesy of two content deals struck with gaming outlet and Real Networks Inc.

For weeks before the launch, customers have been receiving repeated e-mail and phone reminders from Comcast to download the necessary software wizard. Customers were instructed to restart their computers after June 30 to activate the software wizard and redirect their browsers to the new Comcast site.

From there, they are directed through the steps to set up their new e-mail accounts.

"It's going as we expected and we are pleased so far," Comcast spokeswoman Sarah Eder said June 30. That includes the higher-than-usual call volume "and most of those questions circle around passwords."

"I would say we have longer hold times than we typically have because the volume is up, but we anticipated that and are fully staffed for it today," she added.

Although the MSO is not releasing exact numbers, Eder said a high percentage of the AT&T Broadband customers have downloaded the software, and there has been a good volume of users making the transition on the first day.

"Any customers that haven't changed their settings yet, we want them to do that as soon as possible so they can take advantage," she said.

Reports on Internet news groups generally gave favorable reviews of the transition software, although there was frequent mention of more spam e-mail hitting users' new mailboxes.

Eder said that was somewhat puzzling, given the difference in spam filtering settings between the two networks.

"Maybe it was just a heavy spam day — I don't know," she said. "But I know that based on network settings that Comcast has a more strict e-mail environment than what AT&T Broadband had."

It marks the second time in two years that this set of cable-modem customers have seen a service switch. But unlike the last service migration — when the now-defunct Excite@Home service was cut off in December 2001 — the former AT&T Broadband customers will have access to their @attbi e-mails for some time. Those addresses will be active through the end of 2004.