July 31, 2000 9:00 AM PDT
Juno first in line for Time Warner cable network
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Trials for the new Juno service on Time Warner are being conducted in Columbus, Ohio.
Time Warner and America Online, which are in the midst of a multibillion-dollar merger, have garnered considerable scrutiny from federal regulators. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission held a hearing to examine an array of issues surrounding the proposed merger. One key element of the hearing was whether the companies are committed to opening Time Warner's cable lines to outside ISPs. Consumer groups and industry rivals have expressed concerns about that issue.
During the hearing, executives from AOL and Time Warner said opening Time Warner's cable network is essential to its business. Time Warner chief executive Gerald Levin said the company has already begun installing routers and plans to work with third-party software companies to develop a billing system for handling multiple ISPs on its network.
But Levin added that a rival ISP will not be offered until Time Warner's existing exclusive agreement with its Road Runner cable ISP is renegotiated. Levin said during the hearing that the exclusive contract would be concluded by the end of the year, opening doors for other ISPs to begin marketing their services.
Critics, including consumer groups and media rivals such as Walt Disney, remain cautious of Time Warner and AOL's promises. Federal regulators during last week's hearing questioned whether Time Warner Cable would give AOL preferential treatment on its network, or whether the deals with outside ISPs would cost more than a deal with AOL.
Time Warner Cable said it remains committed to signing more ISP deals of this kind.
"We look forward to reaching agreement with other ISPs as quickly as possible and to offering our customers a broadening array of choices in how they experience the Internet," Glenn Britt, president of Time Warner Cable, said in a statement.