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@Home pulling plug on cable partners

The digital lights are going out for subscribers at small cable networks that haven't cut individual deals with the dying high-speed Net company.

The digital lights are going out for @Home subscribers at small cable networks that haven't cut individual deals with the dying high-speed Net company.

Late Tuesday, Cablevision subscribers to the @Home broadband Internet service found their connections cut off without warning. see special coverage: Complete coverage of Excite@Home troubles

Several of @Home's biggest cable partners, including Cox Communications and Comcast, have deals that will see their @Home service continue through the end of February. Cablevision and a handful of others did not strike this deal, however.

Only a relatively small number of people were affected by Tuesday's Cablevision cutoff. A company representative said that well under 1 percent of Cablevision's 423,000 customers actually used the @Home Network. The vast majority were served by Cablevision's own Optimum Online systems.

Most of the customers affected were moved to Cablevision's own network in the course of a day. Nevertheless, the shutdown without warning did prompt some complaints from subscribers who hadn't yet backed up e-mail or other data stored on @Home servers. That data is lost.

Cablevision had set up a transition program and warned its customers that the @Home service would be lost, but had not identified a specific day for the shutdown.

@Home "terminated service to all remaining Optimum@Home customers (Tuesday) night without any warning," Gemma Toner, Cablevision senior vice president, said in a statement.

see CNET Internet: Find a broadband provider @Home spokeswoman Amy Smith said Cablevision was aware that a cessation of service was in the works and that it was up to the cable company to communicate with its own subscribers.

The service hiccups stem from @Home's bankruptcy and a fight over the assets, which concluded in December with the struggling company saying it would simply close its doors at the end of February. AT&T Broadband, the company's largest cable partner, has already moved its Net customers over to a hastily constructed alternative network. Cox and Comcast are following suit.