RCN Corp. said last week that it has expanded its New York
City customer base beyond the island of Manhattan and into Queens.
The company started offering its dial-up phone and Internet
services there last Tuesday, and it will begin construction on its fiber optic network in
Queens sometime during the fourth quarter, said David C. McCourt, RCN's chairman and
"For us, it's a nonevent," said Barry
Rosenblum, president of Time Warner Cable of New York City, the incumbent cable operator
in Manhattan and Queens. "We actually thought that they were already there," he
added, because the company has been hearing that RCN was making the rounds at apartment
buildings in Queens for some time now.
McCourt projected that RCN will eventually garner one-third
of the customer base in Queens for each of the three services that it plans to offer:
phone, Internet access and cable.
He added that RCN would need only 10 percent market share
in each category to make the business successful.
"My goal is to be the dominant provider of phone,
Internet and cable service from Boston to Washington, D.C.," McCourt said.
Queens has more than 800,000 households.
McCourt said the company had received many calls for its
service from Queens residents.
There's no doubt that some of that demand was created
by RCN's aggressive ad campaigns throughout the city, covering everything from print
and broadcast ads to signs in train stations and subway cars. McCourt said RCN will use
the same tactics in Queens.
Rosenblum said that although Time Warner considers all
forms of competition strong, the company does not plan to go head-to-head against RCN in
"Our philosophy is that if we do everything that we
need to do correctly, our customers will keep us as their primary service," Rosenblum
Time Warner has made customer-service improvements,
completed cable upgrades and finalized creative programming deals, Rosenblum added.
Once its fiber optic network is constructed in Queens, RCN
will offer a 110-channel service featuring the same programming that it offers in
Manhattan. McCourt said the service will compete on its expanded programming options,
picture quality, value, pricing and service.
Rosenblum said Time Warner is rebuilding its plant in
Queens, where it has already upgraded 500,000 homes. The operator plans to upgrade another
500,000 homes each year in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Rosenblum hopes
to start a high-speed Internet test, most likely in Manhattan and Queens, sometime next
year, but he has no plans to offer residential telephony.
RCN said it has nearly 80,000 customers total in Manhattan
for its three services.