Ex-AT&T Modem Subs Play Name Game Again

Cable-modem customers in AT&T Broadband territories may soon come down with a case of déjà vu.

Starting in February, they will be going through their second service and e-mail domain name change in two years, as Comcast Corp. formally takes over their connections and accounts. But in contrast to the abrupt switchover from Excite@Home Corp. network they endured in December 2001, this time the process will be heavy on planning and absent the panic, according to the Philadelphia-based MSO.

"The other good news on this is that we are not under extreme pressure we went thought during the @Home transition," said Comcast spokeswoman Sarah Eder. "We expect this to be much smoother."

Comcast has a transition team at work on planning for the switch, examining customer relations, marketing and the technical planks.

"We believe — and the fundamental piece of this is — that customers are frustrated when they don't have enough information. So we will head that off by giving information to them early," Eder said. "So we are working on that right now."

Around the beginning of February, the first batch of former AT&T Broadband customers will be notified on a market-by-market basis of the switch to Comcast High-Speed Internet service, and given a time frame for the process.

"The technical team is assessing which markets should go first, how it should take place, and therefore how customer chain of communication also will vary by market," Eder said.

Moving to Comcast HSI service will boost the former AT&T Broadband customers' number of e-mail accounts from six to seven, and add 25 megabytes of network storage for personal files. And unless they aren't video subscribers, customers won't see much of a pricing change.

For subscribers who take video and data, cable-modem service will cost $42.95 per month if they own their modem or $45.95 if they lease.

If they take only data, they will pay $57.95 or $60.95, respectively — about a $10-per-month increase.

Comcast isn't releasing how many data-only customers it serves. It is already at work notifying these customers in several markets of the pricing change, and that process will continue even as the remaining customers switch over to Comcast accounts.

Customers will have at least 60 days to make e-mail domain name change from @attbi.com to @comcast.net. During which time they will have access to their old @attbi.com accounts and the new @comcast.net messages.

A small number of customers — Comcast isn't releasing an exact figure — also will have to change their user name, because it has already been assigned to an existing Comcast subscriber. They will be contacted separately and asked to choose a new user name.