Britt: 1M Phone Subs for Time Warner

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New York -- Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt said the country’s No. 2 MSO has reached the 1 million-subscriber milestone for its digital-voice customers about one month ahead of schedule.

Time Warner officially launched digital-voice service in Portland, Maine, in May 2003, making it available across its entire footprint by the end of 2004. It had hoped to hit 1 million subscribers by the end of 2005. Britt said at the UBS Warburg LLC Global Media Conference here Monday that the goal was reached in November.

Britt added that Time Warner has been growing basic subscribers, as well as digital, high-speed-Internet and voice customers, but the voice service appears to be the main driver for that growth.

“I think that voice is very powerful and is driving a lot of our results at the moment,” he added.

Britt also offered an update on its “Start Over” service, which enables customers to jump back to the beginning of a program that is already under way.

Britt said Time Warner began a trial of Start Over about one month ago to some 18,000 homes in Columbia, S.C. After one month, he added, usage has been strong -- 70% of those customers have used the service an average of about 10 times each. That compares with video-on-demand usage -- about one-half of the MSO’s customers use that service 25-30 times per month.

Britt said Time Warner will compete with video offerings from telephone companies like Verizon Communications Inc. on three fronts: innovation, better marketing and better customer service, not price.

But he added that while he is not overly concerned with competition from the telcos, he is taking them seriously.

“There is some question about what their return on investment is, but it doesn’t really matter from where I sit, because I assume they are going to do this,” Britt said. He added that cable already has the platform in place and has a low-cost entry into the telephone business -- something the telcos do not have with video.

“We’re ready to compete,” Britt said. “By the time they catch up to where we are, we’ll have moved somewhere else with innovation.”

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