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Time Warner Offers No More Waiting for the Cable Guy

Time Warner Cable Inc. will set a specific service appointment time for customers who pay $189.95 a month for a new premium package. Photographer: Rick Maiman/Bloomberg
Time Warner Cable Inc. will set a specific service appointment time for customers who pay $189.95 a month for a new premium package. Photographer: Rick Maiman/Bloomberg

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Time Warner Cable Inc. is set to try a new pitch for customers: No more waiting for the cable guy.

There is a price, however. The second-largest U.S. cable operator will set a specific service appointment time for customers who pay $189.95 a month for a new premium package. The plan, dubbed “Signature Home,” is being tested in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will roll out nationally within a few weeks, Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said in an interview.

Time Warner Cable plans to introduce several custom bundles geared at different customer bases within the next two years to lure and retain subscribers. The premium package includes two whole-home digital video recorders and wideband Internet, as well as higher-end service. The company is testing a lower-priced service called “TV Essentials” in New York City for $39.99 aimed at economically strapped consumers.

“We’re doing a lot of work segmenting the audience,” Britt said. “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.”

“Signature Home” subscribers will have access to a personal service adviser 24 hours a day, and specially trained technicians will make house calls based on reservations at specific times. Customers typically have three hour windows with regular Time Warner Cable packages.

‘Whiz-Bang Things’

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,” said Britt. “It’s our package with everything we have to offer and a different service experience all wrapped up in one.”

Time Warner Cable lost 155,000 basic video subscribers last quarter, ending with a total of 12.6 million, primarily because of a weak economic environment and increased competition from satellite operators like DirecTV and phone companies including Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc.

“You’re going to see us more and more carving out an identity that’s going to be different from an AT&T and Verizon,” Britt said. “Not a one-size-fits all model.”

Time Warner Cable fell $1.04, or 1.7 percent, to $61.32 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 48 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Riddell in Washington at kriddell1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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