Cable Internet access company @Home today announced the first of its media development projects with three news outlets.
@Home announced that HotWired, the New York Times, and USA Today will be the first of more than 60 media partners to launch projects using the cable service's technology. A joint venture of Tele-Communications Incorporated, Cox Communications, and Comcast, @Home is one of the first companies to provide consumer Internet access using high-speed cable modems that are hundreds of times faster than the standard 28.8-kbps analog modems now used in most homes.
However, while today's announcement is a welcome one, analysts said projects and partners are not where the fledgling company needs to focus right now.
"I would rather have seen that we have deployment plans for three new operators. There's no shortage of people who will provide content once [@Home] has the pipeline open," said Emily Green, an analyst with Forrester Research. "The most critical thing is to get the service in place to as many homes as possible while people are still willing to believe that the cable industry can reverse their negative opinions about them."
@Home lost significant credibility earlier this year after widely touting its service and then falling far behind schedule. "The most important thing is household penetration," Green said. "They had planned to be much further along in their rollout than they are."
@Home currently provides service in the San Francisco suburb of Fremont, California, and in a few weeks will add Baltimore; Arlington Heights, Illinois; Orange County, California; and Hartford, Connecticut, said Charles Moldow, @Home's vice president for media development.
Customers who get the service now will be in for multimedia shows through partnerships announced today that are unavailable elsewhere on the Net, Moldow said.
Material from the first three partnerships will be available to @Home users in early December. It includes HotWired's expanded version of its home page for @Home users, offering more multimedia applications; the Times' multimedia version of "The Age of the Female Icon," based on a November 24 special issue of the New York Times Magazine; and USA Today's first effort to animate its online news, weather, and graphics.
The deals are nonexclusive agreements in which the partners use @Home technology to develop unique projects in exchange for allowing @Home to use the content. Today's announcements are the first of many, Moldow said.
"This is the very first announcement of specific developments for @Home content partners," he said. "We're going to be announcing a large number of additional affiliates in the near future, as well as a dozen very specific developments with well respected companies."