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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 29, 2010

Time Warner Cable Offers Package that Eliminates 'Waiting' for Service

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

It's become a punchline in American life. It's the dreaded cable hook-up or service appointment. At the end of your phone conversation with your cable company requesting service, the voice at the other end of the line informs you, “Someone will be at your home between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.” Planned to go to work or school that day? Too bad. You're doomed to haunt your home all day, fearing to even run out to the grocery store lest you miss the cable service personnel.

Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable thinks you shouldn't have to wait – as long as you pay for the privilege, of course.

Time Warner Cable, the U.S.'s second-largest cable operator, is set to begin offering customers a new premium cable package for the eyebrow-raising price of $189.95. The gilt-wrapped plan, called “Signature Home,” will be first tested in the Charlotte, N.C., market and, if successful, will be roll out nationally within a few weeks, Chief Executive Glenn Britt told Bloomberg (News - Alert) News in an interview.

Time Warner has plans to debut several new custom bundles aimed at different customer demographics. The high-priced premium package will include two whole-home digital video recorders, wideband Internet and higher-end service. The company has also announced that it is testing a lower-priced cable package called “TV Essentials” in New York City for $39.99. This package is a special step the company is taking to retain customers hurting during the recession who might otherwise drop their cable service. Time Warner reportedly lost 155,000 basic cable customers last quarter alone to both competition and the poor economy.

“We're doing a lot of work segmenting the audience,” Britt told Bloomberg News. “It turns out that there are very distinct segments of the public, both in terms of usage of the things we sell and psycho demographics, incomes, what-have-you. If we can put together packages targeted at those groups we think that we're going to be a lot more successful,” he said.

Customers who opt for the new premium package will also have access to a personal service adviser 24 hours a day, and specially trained technicians will make house calls at set appointment times. The “Signature Home” DVRs will have a terabyte of storage, be able to record four high-definition programs simultaneously and store 150 hours of HD content. The bundle will include a wireless service that can connect as many as 13 devices, including TVs, DVRs, computers and gaming consoles.

“If this were a BMW this would be the 750 IL, with all the whiz-bang things,” Britt told Bloomberg. “It's our package with everything we have to offer and a different service experience all wrapped up in one.”

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf