S.C. Firm Is a Five-Product Threat


There are two-product discounts and three-product bundles, but a South Carolina independent local-exchange carrier has escalated the strategy by rolling out a five-product discounted package.

Comporium Communications subscribers who buy local, long-distance and wireless phone service; digital-cable TV; high-speed Internet access and security services will receive a multiproduct discount of up to $240 a year, according to company officials By lumping local and long-distance together, Comporium gets to five services (although it offers two flavors of data service — via cable modem or digital subscriber line — so it could claim seven products).

“This fits with our current mission statement: making life easier,” said Bryant Barnes, the CEO of Comporium, based in Rock Hill.

Comporium is the state’s 20th-largest ILEC, and began offering cable video service in the early 1990s. It has no wireline competitors in York, Chester or Lancaster counties, but is overlapping Time Warner Cable’s Charlotte division as it builds into new developments at the North Carolina line.

The telco currently has 55,000 cable subscribers, including 15,000 digital households. A “fair number” of current customers already take five products and would only need to switch to a single bill in order to earn the discount.

Another large group is on the fringe, subscribing to three or four products. With the discount, those customers could upgrade “almost free of charge,” Barnes said.

Three-product subscribers who upgrade will save $180 a year over those who purchase services separately. Four-product consumers who add one additional service will save $240.

Previously, Comporium had offered multiproduct discounts in the form of one-time installation fee waivers.

The new discount scheme does not require a long-term commitment from customers, Barnes added.

Comporium also is rolling out a service “extra” for customers who buy both telephone service (including caller ID) and digital cable. Those customers qualify to receive caller-ID information via the TV screen.

Newly installed software transfers the incoming-call data to the viewing screen even before the first audible telephone ring. The service is designed to avoid interference with closed captioning or emergency-alert information.

The on-screen information is programmed to appear for 15 seconds, including the name and number of the caller. Customers can alter the length of time the information is visible, and can toggle the message off and on or review the last 10 calls, all via remote.

About 7,000 cable and telephone customers immediately qualify for the service.