Data Services Cope with Subs Tech Issues

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The Road Runner Group has secured the services of an
outside contractor to provide assistance to high-speed data customers calling in with
technical problems.

Road Runner began using Columbus, Ohio-based Stream Inc. in
December to handle so-called "tier 2" calls, where customers' technical
questions are beyond the scope of the local cable service representatives' knowhow, said
Steve Zan Beaver, Steam's senior vice president for operations.

The move comes as rapid growth in the cable data customer
base and growing complexities of computer and online technology make it difficult for
service providers to keep up with customer support responsibilities in-house.

For example, recent problems in this area have prompted
adjustments in technical support management between AT&T Broadband & Internet
Services (formerly Tele-Communications Inc.) and its service provider, At Home Corp.,
though @Home remains committed to dealing with the new challenges in-house.

At Road Runner, it was becoming increasingly obvious that a
firm like Stream was better equipped to exploit new methods and technologies in this area
and to handle increases in call volume resulting from rapid subscriber growth, Zan Beaver
said.

Stream specializes in providing technical customer service
support for various entities on an out-sourced basis. Road Runner is a joint venture of
Time Warner and MediaOne Group Inc.

"They have 155 staff people devoted to serving Road
Runner customers," Beaver said. "It's a very sophisticated operation that's set
up to do just this sort of thing."

Stream also has tools such as an automated e-mail response
system that taps the Road Runner trouble-shooting information base to deliver suggested
solutions matched to specific problems, Zan Beaver said.

"This and other online support mechanisms really help
in alleviating call volume and getting quick solutions to our customers," he added.

Stream's service takes advantage of the online help desk
system that Road Runner put in place nearly a year ago, which goes beyond the listing of
frequently asked questions that typically serves as the user's online directory in finding
a trouble category. The system breaks the problems down into main categories and
sub-categories in "pull-down menus" that can be accessed via key word searches.

The system also keeps track of the types of calls and
solutions being offered, serving both as an early warning system to widescale problems and
as a means of continuously updating information on the best approaches to solving
problems.

With integration of all 12 of Road Runner's regional
service clusters into the group's new national backbone architecture, the trouble-shooting
system will register new problems and their solutions which online customers everywhere
can tap into as similar problems arise, officials said.

Road Runner's counterpart, @Home, too, is making changes in
its customer support system, including taking over the Tier 2 task for TCI.NET (a division
of AT&T Broadband), which had been handling queries on its own. Customers were
complaining about long hold times and lack of responsiveness to their problems.

Officials attributed that problem in part to TCI.NET
personnel often had to get the attention of @Home's tech support staff on a particular
problem before an answer could be passed back to the customer.

@Home chief technical officer Milo Medin acknowledged the
@Home system had not worked as well as it should in dealing with recent problems, such as
those that have plagued users in the Connecticut region.

"In general, one of the things I'm not happy about is
how our customer support organization reacted to the Connecticut problem," Medin
said. "It didn't supply the right amount of information to help people figure out
what was going wrong."

The company is beefing up support staff and focusing on
better training. In addition, @Home officials are working one-on-one with members of a
Connecticut users group to help them optimize their set-ups for use with the network,
Medin said.

AT&T Broadband has taken steps to address customer
complaints on another front as well. At the end of February, the company sent out a letter
to its high-speed data customers saying it had deleted language from its subscriber
agreement "which referred by implication to the possible release of individual
customer information to market research firms, merchants or advertisers."

AT&T Broadbad assured customers it had no intention of
selling mailing lists of @Home customers or releasing individual customer information to
third parties.

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