EarthLink Takes Cable Bow in Seattle


EarthLink Inc. is firing up cable-modem service with a second MSO today as it introduces its high-speed offering in AT&T Broadband's Seattle system.

With the Seattle rollout, EarthLink now claims the biggest cable-modem footprint among non-affiliated ISPs, a still-exclusive club that includes America Online Inc., United Online Inc. and a handful of regional operators in Time Warner Cable's systems.

The EarthLink rollout is similar to the ISP's Time Warner Cable partnership, according to EarthLink vice president of cable sales Staci Parker.

Marketing will initially center on direct mailings. The ISP is also looking into print and radio spots, as well as other promotions.

EarthLink will target its existing narrowband customers, as well as new residential business in the Emerald City market. It offers speeds of 1.5 megabits per second downstream and 256 kilobits per second upstream for $41.95 per month, plus a $3 modem charge if customers choose to lease the unit.

The service also will include the same features EarthLink offers its Time Warner subscribers: 20 hours of dial-up remote access each month, eight e-mail addresses, eight personal start pages, instant messaging and anti-spam and firewall protection, Parker said.

Home networking will be added later, "but I think we wanted, from a residential perspective, to launch and make sure everything goes smoothly, and then we will be looking to quickly add our value-added services," Parker said.

"Obviously, we have got the learning from Time Warner that we can apply to this launch, so we anticipate being able to move more quickly in those opportunities like launching home networking because of that," she added.

On the technical side, EarthLink has not found integrating with AT&T's systems much different than integrating with Time Warner. And the cable industry's service-availability database, GoTo Broadband, has also provided fairly uniform public marketing access for the EarthLink offering across the two MSOs's systems.

"There are some unique nuances from a system interface, but so far Time Warner and AT&T Broadband are using GoTo Broadband, so that has obviously been helpful to us as well," Parker said.

For now, EarthLink will be the only alternative cable-modem ISP in the Seattle market, although the MSO has indicated it is looking at other providers.

"We're excited to be the first," Parker said.

Next up on the rollout list is AT&T's Boston cluster, where EarthLink should go live this fall, according to Parker.

"I don't think it is any big secret that we would like to continue expanding our footprint through our partnerships with cable companies," she said. "We are in technical trials with Comcast and Cox, and we are actively talking to all of them."