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AT&T wants more subscribers for Excite@Home

In a push to increase subscriber numbers, AT&T hopes to spur its Net-over-cable partner Excite@Home to increase its service deployments.

    In a push to increase subscriber numbers, AT&T hopes to spur its Net-over-cable partner Excite@Home to increase its service deployments.

    The telecommunications giant met with other cable partners, including Comcast and Cox Communications, in Denver last week to discuss subscriber goals and other issues surrounding the leading cable Net service, according to AT&T spokeswoman Tracy Hollingsworth.

    "We talked through issues and concerns and try to figure out what we need to do," Hollingsworth said. "How do we improve customer service? How do we get this product, which is in high demand, to customers more quickly?"

    As the market for broadband Net access heats up, cable operators are scrambling to introduce their services as quickly as possible to combat competition from digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. DSL allows users to get high-speed Net access over existing telephone lines.

    AT&T, the largest shareholder in Excite@Home, recently revealed its subscriber target is between 700,000 and 1 million customers by the end of 2000. AT&T claimed 113,000 AT&T@Home customers at the end of September.

    Excite@Home's cable partners have been concerned that the Net service isn't signing subscribers fast enough, according to published reports. The service has suffered through some network problems and other service slowdowns throughout the past year.

    "The meeting last week was very positive. We're really happy they're looking at this," Excite@Home spokesman Matt Wolfrom said. "They have high goals, and that's gratifying to us."

    "The message was that we all have things we need to do," AT&T's Hollingsworth said.

    AT&T's chief cable strategist Dan Somers made faster deployments of cable telephone service and high-speed Net access top priorities for the company at the summit last week, Hollingsworth added.

    AT&T, as its own cable technology upgrades lagged behind industry leaders earlier in the year, stands to lose some of its stake in Excite@Home if it doesn't upgrade its networks by next year.

    Cable wires must first be upgraded to handle two-way transmissions before telephone and Net access services can be offered.