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High-speed winds a'blowin, GTE moves ahead with WorldWind cable modem service

After being first out of the gate in delivering a commercial cable modem service over new plant, GTE continued its high-speed data push last week, rolling out service in Ventura County, Calif.

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The local exchange carrier first introduced its WorldWind cable modem service last November to the 96,000 customers passed by its new hybrid fiber/coax system in Clearwater, Fla. The Clearwater service uses two-way synchronous cable modems from Zenith to deliver speeds of up to 4 Mb/s.

In Ventura County, however, GTE is using two-way synchronous modems from LANcity that enable speeds of up to 10 Mb/s, which results in slightly higher monthly charges to the consumer - $19.95 to lease the modem and $44.95 for subscribers to the GTE Americast video service, vs. $14.95 for the modem and $28.95 for the service in Clearwater.

The telco's next step is to expand cable modem service to Thousand Oaks and Conejo, Calif., over the next two months and to St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, Fla., by the end of the year, said Al Parisian, business development executive for consumer broadband data services. GTE has not yet chosen a modem for those Florida markets but will definitely use either the Zenith or the LANcity model, he added.

GTE may also roll out the WorldWind service over its newly acquired multichannel multipoint distribution service network in Oahu, Hawaii, but no timetable has been set yet.

Meanwhile, GTE has other plans in the works, Parisian said. The company is currently reselling Internet services from its INS subsidiary and is looking for other ways to provide specialized content that is well-suited to high-speed access.

However, Parisian said that GTE would most likely not sign on with a cable modem service such as the @Home service.

"Folks who are willing to make this kind of investment want more immediate data, rather than repackaged data from the Internet," he said. "We might consider porting some of @Home's content, but we're looking for ways to provide our subscribers with the opportunity to find and access the information they want directly.

The company has also confirmed that it will begin deploying digital set-top boxes in its California and Florida systems by mid-summer.

GTE is also gauging customer interest in voice over IP, Parisian said. However, all those plans are just speculation until GTE works out the nuts and bolts of its video and cable modem services, he added.

"We need to get a certain number of cities under our belt in any given area before those behaviors become rational," he said.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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