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Time Warner Wants an ISP Triple Play

Three is AOL Time Warner Inc.'s magic number for multiple Internet-service provider access to its cable systems.

In rapid-fire succession, Time Warner Cable has added EarthLink Inc. ISP service in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio; Syracuse, N.Y.; Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham N.C.; several South Carolina systems and Tampa, Fla. But the Federal Trade Commission's approval of the America Online Inc.-Time Warner Inc. merger requires Time Warner Cable to sign up two more non-affiliated ISPs in each market within 90 days. After that, it must negotiate with other ISPs in good faith.

The MSO appears to be moving that direction. It's submitted plans to the Federal Trade Commission to add Juno Online Services Inc. throughout its multi-state territory. Juno is likely to first roll out service in the four established multiple-ISP markets, said Time Warner spokesman Mike Luftman.

The FTC also is eyeing regional Time Warner deals with Florida ISP Internet Junction Corp. and NewYorkConnect.Net Ltd. for access in Tampa and New York City, respectively.

"We're confident we will get the required deals done within the 90-day window," Luftman said.

AOL Time Warner also has submitted a deal with South Texas Internet Connections Inc. for cable-modem ISP service in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. But that doesn't necessarily mean multiple ISP service will come to Texas next, Luftman said.

"We have a launch schedule that is agreed upon between us, EarthLink and AOL," Luftman said. "We also, at the same time, are doing deals as quickly as we can with other unaffiliated ISPs. We're talking to local, regional and national ISPs, and those deals will get done on their own timeframe."

The MSO plans to start multiple ISP access in the MSO's top 20 markets as soon as possible and has an internal schedule for rollout in all of its markets, although it is not releasing particulars on either timetable.