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Road Runner Touts Facelift

Time Warner Cable this week introduces a major redesign of its Road Runner high-speed data service home page, responding to what officials called customer demand for more "media rich" content and more customization.

"We think this represents what broadband really ought to be," Road Runner president Jeffrey King said during a demonstration of the new home page last Friday at Time Warner Cable offices in Manhattan.

The first facelift for Road Runner in two years cost more than $1 million to develop, King said.

In October, Road Runner, like other cable-data providers, increased its download speeds to 3 Megabits per second from 2 Mbps, King pointed out.

"We continue to listen to our customers," he said. "They said we want more speed, there's more media rich content. They say we want ways to navigate better, we want more customization. And that's what the new Road Runner is all about."

New features on the home page — which King said most Road Runner customers keep as their start page — include big windows featuring CNN NewsPass video news reports and promos for new services from Time Warner Cable.

More local news — partly from Time Warner news channels in relevant markets and partly from news editors in local markets — and local information has been added to the mix.

From Jan. 13 to 16, different home-page versions will be introduced in 70 different locations, including 31 Time Warner Cable regions and systems owned by other affiliates, notably Bright House Networks.

All-new content includes one free weekly movie download from the MovieLink service and a new suite of protective software (including "firewalls" and pop-up blockers) from Computer Associates, officials said.

Officials said the spread of media-intensive portals — such as a feature that lets users see three-dimensional versions of hotel rooms — had propelled consumer demand beyond always-on connections and high speeds.

"There's a lot more to bring a customer than the connectivity we can provide, and there's a lot more coming," Steven Cook, Road Runner's vice president of broadband programming and promotions, said.

Road Runner will promote the new innovations heavily, including on cross-channel spots and direct mail, Time Warner Cable senior vice president of high-speed data Gregg DiPaolo said.

Time Warner Cable has about 3 million high-speed data customers, of which "a very large share" are Road Runner customers, King said.