Seattle MSOs Modems Take On AT & Ts

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The high-speed-data war is heating up in the Seattle area.

Millennium Digital Media has recently started deploying its own cable-modem service to residents there, in competition with AT & T Broadband's AT & T@Home.

Millennium will compete initially in neighborhoods serving 40,000 homes, compared with the 800,000 passed by AT & T Broadband, but the competitor intends to eventually reach the Greater Seattle market.

"We've been testing for a year. We intend to maintain our service standards. We have a high quality-of-service rating from our customers, and we want to keep that," said Steven Weed, president of the overbuilder's Northwest region.

The company currently serves the Seattle areas known as Denny Regrade, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill, where it has about 18,000 cable customers. Outside of the city, it serves the Issaquah, Sammamish Plateau and Duvall areas.

Millenium is peopled with veterans of Charter Communications Inc. It bought its first system in Anne Arundel County, Md., from InterMedia Partners in 1998.

Most recently, it bought Summit Communications Inc. That MSO served the Seattle market as a video provider, and Millenium has improved the plant to launch its cable-modem service, which it has dubbed "Cablespeed."

Cablespeed is similar to the AT & T-branded Excite@Home Corp. service, except that it does not come attached to a content portal, Weed said.

The cost of the service will vary according to the return speed and volume of use. Download speed will be 786 kilobits per second, compared with the 1-megabit-per-second to 3-mbps speeds advertised by AT & T Broadband.

The basic service is $45 per month for cable customers and $55 for noncustomers. Installation is $99, about $50 less than what AT & T Broadband charges.

"Cablespeed Pro" will be marketed to businesses and priced according to volume.

Millenium has had some interesting "friendlies" in its beta-tests. Its east King County system is home to a building that will be a Microsoft Corp. campus.

The cable operator worked with Microsoft's Smart Cities Group to assure that its cable build-out will meet Microsoft's specs. The computer giant's employees will be able to work from home with full Ethernet speeds, Weed said.

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