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Road Runner plans to upgrade services

The high-speed ISP expects to unify its cable modem service under one brand during the first half of the year and will soon unveil an upgrade to its user interface.

Road Runner expects to unify its cable modem service under one brand during the first half of the year and will soon unveil an upgrade to its user interface, executives said today.

Road Runner, the high-speed Internet service owned by cable operators Time Warner and MediaOne, will be marketed simply as Road Runner by mid-year.

Due to certain technology roadblocks, the service is currently marketed as Road Runner to 100,000 cable subscribers served by Time Warner systems, and as MediaOne Express to another 80,000 customers in separate franchises. But some analysts have said the dual services, which offer Net access and similar content features, could dilute brand recognition or cause confusion among consumers.

"We've been working on the infrastructure and that's pretty close to being done," said Road Runner spokeswoman Sandy Colony. "The last step really is changing the brand. I think that will happen during the first half of the year."

The No. 2 data-over-cable service will also unveil an updated version of its portal-like user interface "in the very early part of the second quarter," said Karl Rogers, vice president of programming.

The new look, although not a major overhaul, will include service and interface enhancements and additional content partners, Rogers said. Rogers declined to be more specific.

Meanwhile, Road Runner continues to negotiate with NBC over a potential deal to deliver news to Road Runner subscribers, Rogers said. And, the search continues for a permanent chief executive. The company, which has operated under Time Warner Cable executive Carl Rossetti as interim CEO since June, has offered no timeline for naming a full-time leader.

The company signed a content deal yesterday with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to provide news and information from Fox, particularly sports content.

Road Runner is a joint venture between Time Warner, MediaOne Group, Microsoft, Compaq Computer, and Advance/Newhouse. The service claims 180,000 subscribers.