Road Runner also is already rolling out in Southern California. Future markets may include cities in Florida and Texas, which also are Time Warner Cable strongholds, sources said. The price is expected to be around $40 per month for existing cable customers. Time Warner declined to comment.
Some 810,000 households will be able to receive Road Runner in Albany and Columbus. By year's end, Time Warner hopes to reach 4.5 million homes nationally--one of the most aggressive launches by any cable company.
The rollout comes despite criticism by some users of customer service and technical problems, such as outages and lost email. The company said it is working to improve service, however.
Time Warner is not alone in launching Net access over cable systems. @Home and Continental Cablevision also are starting to blanket the country nationally. Cable providers also face stiff competition from telephone companies, which are offering ADSL and ISDN access over phone lines.