Time Warner Seeks Ohio Telephony Consent


Time Warner Cable has filed an application with Ohio utility regulators to deliver telephony over its cable systems in that state.

The MSO serves 340,000 Ohio customers, with systems in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Canton and Dayton.

Time Warner, according to the filing, intends to offer facilities-based phone services using voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) technology, marketing to only current high-speed data customers. Telephony customers will be offered local and long-distance service on a bundled, flat-rate basis.

The filing states the market rate for this service would be $49.95, but said the company reserves the right to offer lower promotional rates.

A one-time $19.95 connection charge will apply and telephony customers will get a different type of modem. This follows the launch strategy utilized by the company in its initial digital telephony market: Portland, Maine.

The service could include common popular calling features such as call waiting or caller ID. Advanced features may include the ability to forward voice mail to an e-mail address or the ability to use the television set to check the identity of an incoming caller.

A telephony launch in Ohio would put Time Warner in competition with several incumbents, including SBC Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Cincinnati Bell and Sprint Corp.

A Time Warner affiliate, Time Warner Telecom of Ohio LP, already does business in the state, in partnership with Metrcom Axs, providing business services in more than 40 markets.

Federal regulators have yet to classify where VoIP fits in regulatory policy.

Time Warner's state filing make it clear it is submitting its plans to state utility regulators because it will be part of the public switched networks.

But the filing stressed that the submission should not be interpreted to mean Time Warner Cable considers itself to be a telecommunications carrier, telecom provider, local-exchange carrier, common carrier or any other regulated entity.

Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Cocozza said there's no fixed date for launching telephony in Ohio.

The cable operator has regulatory applications pending in Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Telephone approvals have already been awarded in New York, North Carolina and Maine.

In the Portland launch, Time Warner has signed up 7,000 voice customers, at a rate of 250 to 300 a week, said Cocozza.

In that market, Time Warner also competes with Verizon.

Time Warner Cable has now expanded the offer of telephony service there to non-data customers, he said.

The operator plans to launch phone service in three more markets — one in upstate New York and two in North Carolina — by the end of the year.