Comcast Starts AT&T E-Mail Switchout

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Comcast Corp. has started a market-by-market process to shift its 1.9 million former AT&T Broadband high-speed data subscribers to its own e-mail service.

The two-phase project began April 17, when Broadband subscribers in six cities received notice to download a transition-wizard software program onto their personal computers.

Between now and the end of May, all former Broadband high-speed subscribers will be asked to download the software.

On June 30, Comcast will send out a message asking consumers to reboot their computers, effectively shifting their accounts to the comcast.net domain.

"We wanted to make this very, very simple for our customers," Suzanne McFadden, senior director of marketing Comcast Online, said.

E-mailing message

Several weeks ago, Comcast started to send e-mail messages to 1.9 million high-speed subscribers about the impending change. On April 17, subscribers in Atlanta, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Richmond, Va., received notices to download the transition wizard from a newly dedicated Web site (http://connect.comcast.net
).

Last week, consumers in San Francisco; Western Michigan; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; and South Bend, Ind., received notices.

On tap this week are Salt Lake City and Seattle. Next week is Boston, while Portland, Ore., and Southern California will receive e-mail notices beginning May 13; Chicago and Central California, May 20; and Dallas and Denver, May 27.

Comcast told consumers that while their e-mail addresses would shift to the comcast.net domain on June 30, e-mail from their former @attbi.com addresses would be forwarded until December 2004, giving subscribers plenty of time to inform friends, family and work associates of the change, McFadden said.

FAQs and directions

The connection site provides customers with a list of frequently asked questions and directions to download the transition wizard. Once the wizard is installed, the PC will ping a Comcast server every time it is rebooted to ask whether it's time to transition. The answer will be "no" until June 30.

Around that date, Comcast will send a message asking subscribers to reboot after June 30, to reset e-mail settings. After the computer is rebooted, the subscriber will answer a few questions on a series of screens, then be up and running.

At that time, their official email address will have changed to comcast.net. They'll also see a newly redesigned Comcast Online home page, McFadden said.

The process also means Comcast's support agent will reside on the subscriber's PC, allowing the user to chat with the help desk and access online-troubleshooting areas.

For subscribers who don't want to download the wizard, Comcast will provide manual instructions, starting June 30. If consumers still don't download the wizard, their high-speed connection will still work, they just won't be able to use their AT&T or Comcast e-mail addresses to send or receive messages.

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