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Time Warner, Cox expand cable access

Time Warner's Road Runner announces a redesign with added content and Cox adds two Northern California counties to its roster.

Time Warner and Cox Communications today announced expansions of their plans to provide high-speed Internet access via their cable systems.

Time Warner's Road Runner said it would unveil a redesign of its broadband online service at a cable television trade show next week that will extend the appeal to a "broader, more mainstream segment of the consumer market."

Dubbed Road Runner 2.0, it will feature consumer branded content from Time See special report: Raising the speed limit Warner and others, personal home pages, email, message boards, and chat listings. It includes programming from more than 25 suppliers for the local, national, and international markets. The new service will roll out during the first quarter of next year.

The strategy is similar to one from @Home, which is trying to provide a full menu of content to its customers along with high-speed Net access. The companies see online services such as America Online as providing formidable competition.

Many of @Home's and Road Runner's initial customers are seasoned Net users who cite the high speed and constant connectivity as the main reasons for subscribing to the service. But to crack the mass market, the companies also will have to provide AOL-like features, including branded content, email, and chat, analysts say.

Also today, Internet Ventures and Cox Communications Humboldt said they reached an agreement to provide high-speed Net access to the 32,000-subscriber system in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in Northern California.

Upstream data is moved via a telephone modem at speeds of up to 33.6 kbps or via ISDN, while the data is received on a PC equipped with a cable modem and an Ethernet card. Prices range from $20 to $95 per month depending on the service. Internet access and installation is extra.