Paul Allen: A Matchmaker For Cable And The Net

Billionaire investor Paul Allen says he has a vision of a "wired world" for cable TV, turning it into a two-way Internet path. Now, he's putting more money behind that vision. On Dec. 2, Microsoft's co-founder announced he is paying $20 million for an estimated 40% stake in High Speed Access, a Denver startup that provides Net access via cable, similar to services from @Home and Roadrunner.

Allen is expected to make HSA's service available to many of the 2.5 million cable subscribers of Marcus Cable and Charter Communications, which he bought for $4 billion five months ago. HSA has only about 4,000 subscribers. @Home, backed by Tele-Communications, and Roadrunner,

a joint venture of Time Warner and MediaOne, have a total of nearly 400,000 customers.

Dataquest predicts that sales of cable modems will hit 2.4 million worldwide in 2002, from 492,000 this year. Meantime, cable-industry execs expect Allen to buy more cable systems.