MSOs Getting Excited Again


After seeing cable-modem provisioning abruptly cut off last week by
Excite@Home Corp., cable affiliates are lining up to strike deals with the
troubled high-speed service and resume adding new customers.

So far, Rogers Cable Inc., AT&T Broadband, Comcast Cable Communications
Inc. and Cox Communications Inc. have forged interim agreements this week to
resume provisioning service through Nov. 30, although they are uniformly not
releasing terms.

The latest to announce a deal Wednesday was AT&T Broadband, which
will resume new customer provisioning Thursday.

'The company is pleased to have quickly reached an agreement causing little
impact on new and current customers,' AT&T Broadband executive vice
president of broadband services Greg Braden said in a prepared statement.
'We remain committed to providing our customers with uninterrupted high-speed
cable Internet service.'

'We've resumed normal installation processes for
Cox@Home high-speed customers. We're very pleased that the delay in scheduling
of installations was short-lived, and that it did not impact our current
Cox@Home customers in any way,' Cox spokeswoman Laura Oberhelman

But it came with a price tag for Cox. While Oberhelman said details of the
deal are not being released, 'In the interest of coming to a resolution and
continuing to serve our customers -- and to support Excite@Home in the
bankruptcy proceedings -- we will supply some additional funding to fund the
resumption of installations.'

Given the usual week or so backlog of installation orders, the Atlanta-based
MSO is hoping that there will be little interruption in new customer

'But it depends on customers' schedules,' Oberhelman said. 'We are going to
start contacting them with installation appointments, so the hope is that
pending installations may be rescheduled sooner than the original expected

In a brief press release issued late Tuesday, Comcast said new customer
provisioning would resume. Terms of the deal are not being released.

'Comcast and Excite@Home have reached an agreement that allows Comcast to
continue deploying high-speed Internet services to our customers,' vice
president David Juliano said in the release. 'Comcast is pleased that the two
companies were able to reach this resolution quickly, without having any impact
on new or existing customers.'

Last week, Excite@Home's creditors' committee and management abruptly
announced that the troubled high-speed cable-modem service would stop
provisioning new customers for its cable MSOs as it works through Chapter 11

Excite@Home officials said the move was aimed at conserving cash, although
observers have speculated that it was also intended to increase its bargaining
power with its member MSOs.

Because MSOs usually carry one week or more backlog of new subscriber orders,
there will be virtually no interruption of new modems lit up for Comcast,
according to Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer.

Not so for other member MSOs
such as Insight Communications Co. Inc., which said its situation is unchanged from last

'We're in discussions with them to get provisioning back up,' Insight
president and CEO Michael Willner said. 'We haven't decided yet. It's an
interesting time in history to be playing these kinds of games.'

UBS Warburg LLC research analyst Thomas W. Eagan predicted such deals, in
which cable affiliates will prepay to fund new customer provisioning.

'We estimate that this prepayment by the MSOs could
amount to $34.7 million for Cox in Q4 and $31.4 million for Comcast in Q4,' he
noted in a release.'