Cablevision Sees Lightpath in Starring Role

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Cablevision Systems Corp. last week said it expanded its Lightpath division's executive team to help speed deployment of telephone and data services throughout its metropolitan New York territory.

Senior vice president for business-telecommunications services Eric Tveter said that once Lightpath deploys switched-service commercial products in New Jersey later this year, it will have rolled out in all the markets it has chosen to enter, including Connecticut and New York City, Westchester County and Long Island, N.Y.

Tveter said Lightpath's fiber-optic network and strong customer service help to attract businesses interested in high-speed-data services and telephony. The company plans to begin offering virtual private networks later this year for employers that want to help their workers telecommute.

Lightpath's fiber network is expanding beyond Cablevision's footprint and into such places as Manhattan in order to tap strong growth opportunities for commercial accounts. According to Tveter, the tristate commercial market represents a $15 billion business overall.

To increase awareness of Lightpath's brand, the company sponsored the Lightpath Long Island Classic golf tournament last year, and will sponsor the Senior PGA tour event again later this month on Long Island.

"We think it's a great event to be associated with," Tveter said. "Golf attracts a business audience."

The sponsorship also fits in with Cablevision's marketwide emphasis on sports and entertainment, which includes its ownership of Madison Square Garden and several sports teams.

Late this month, Lightpath will launch its first television ad campaign, starting with cross-channel ads on Cablevision systems. Tveter said he wouldn't rule out buying spots on Time Warner Cable's New York system.

The division is currently running radio spots, and it plans to roll out a new Web site soon. The tag line for its TV campaign will be, "Voice, data, Internet, real human beings."

Tveter said customer service was one way Lightpath attempts to set itself apart from the local telecommunications competition. "We provide a personal service representative for each of our commercial customers," he added.

Lightpath faces roughly 20 competitors for commercial-telecommunications services in the tristate area, including Verizon Communications (formerly Bell Atlantic Corp.) and AT & T Corp.

The following vice presidents will report to Tveter as part of the Lightpath restructuring: Kevin Curran, business-product management; Phil DeCabia, sales; George Lakestream, wholesale services and developing markets; Maggie Meluso, customer service; Ralph Eck, service management; Vito Caraguilo, telephony-network management; Leo Maese, network planning and interconnection; and Joe Caruso, business planning and finance.

In the first quarter of 2000, Lightpath generated $19.6 million in revenue, up 27 percent from the same period a year ago. First-quarter cash flow increased 44 percent to $12.5 million. The company serves more than 1,750 business customers.

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