Time Warner Cable

You might say Time Warner Cable is sitting pretty.

You might say Time Warner Cable is sitting pretty. Its $4 billion network upgrade to fiber optics will be virtually complete this year, boosting reliability and enabling new product offerings.

It has bought and sold cable properties for more economical, streamlined business; more than 90 percent of its 12.7 million customers are now clustered in systems serving 100,000 people. Its cleaned up the basics, too, focusing heavily on customer service.

While Time Warner Cables clustering, fiber upgrades and customer service work isnt unique in the industry, President Glenn Britt says his company has often been ahead of the pack. Time Warner Cable has begun reaping the rewards of its pioneering, Britt says. And he expects "very positive" changes from the recent America Online-Time Warner merger. "The merger will enable [the two companies] to work together with different skill sets, and develop new products," he says.

Under the merger, Time Warner Cable and CEO Joseph J. Collins pledged to give its broadband customers a choice of Internet service providers by midyear with EarthLink the first ISP to ride its pipes.

While Britt expects television programming to remain its staple business for the foreseeable future, change is under way. "I think the biggest change in our business will be our multiple product line," he says. Video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, voice-over-Internet Protocol and interactive TV are planned.

Time Warner Cables digital cable customers grew to 1.7 million at the end of 2000, a 305 percent increase from a year earlier. Britt expects a similar growth rate in 2001. Road Runner, its jointly owned high-speed Internet access service, grew to 946,000 customers at the end of 2000, up 187 percent from the end of 1999.