the most recent Time Warner Cable systems to light up multiple Internet-service providers — may also prove to be early test grounds of consumer reaction to pricing, brand and content.
On Thursday, EarthLink Inc. and Time Warner's sister Internet division, America Online, said they launched service in the two markets. Time Warner's Raleigh-Durham operation passes 760,000 homes, while the Tampa system passes 1.4 million homes.
The services are markedly different in price. EarthLink will sell its offering in Raleigh-Durham and Tampa for an introductory $41.95 monthly fee for speeds up to 2 megabits per second downstream and 384 kilobits per second upstream.
The EarthLink package includes a modem, eight electronic-mail addresses, firewall software, multi-user access support, local content, an AOL Instant Messenger-compatible messaging service, unlimited access to EarthLink's online Web site builder, roaming access across EarthLink's dial-up network, anti-spam software and EarthLink's print magazine and electronic newsletter.
The Internet-service provider also has started service in Time Warner Cable's Columbus, Ohio, and Syracuse, N.Y. systems.
In contrast, AOL cable-modem subscribers will pay $54.95 per month for the basic service, although other pricing plans also are available.
Powered by AOL's new 7.0 software, the service also includes the modem, up to seven e-mail addresses, instant messaging, personal calendars and remote dialup access. It also offers a raft of news, sports, entertainment and travel content; a special multimedia package with streaming audio and video content; as well as shopping discounts, chat functions, buddy lists, firewall software and parental Web access controls.