ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 9, 2000--Charter Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:CHTR), a pioneer in interactive services over the television, is nearing the consumer-testing phase of a unique new service designed to increase a customer's enjoyment of the television viewing experience. The service is being developed with Broadband Partners, a joint venture with Charter, Go2Net (Nasdaq:GNET), HSA (Nasdaq:HSAC), and Vulcan Ventures, said Mary Pat Blake, Charter's Senior Vice President for Marketing & Programming.
Blake, speaking Thursday on a panel at the 2000 CTAM Digital & Pay Per View Conference in Los Angeles, said that compelling new broadband services will be the catalyst for increasing the penetration of digital cable beyond the 50 percent mark.
"We have a number of exciting initiatives under way that we believe will result in must-have services that we will offer customers on Charter's cable communications network," Blake said. "The key here is that we blend together information and entertainment with the latest broadband technology in a customer-friendly format. Our challenge is offering our customers services that are extremely useful and inviting while keeping very high-tech services not at all intimidating."
She said Broadband Partners, which Charter, Go2Net, HSA and Vulcan formed last fall, is developing a service "that gives customers a more valuable, personalized TV viewing experience by providing additional content and services, useful and timely information, entertainment and commerce in a friendly and easy-to-use format."
The service offers a "whole house solution," meaning each person in a household can customize the service to his or her interests, she said. "For example, one person may want to check just the same 10 stocks in her portfolio every day, while another person may customize his screens to show local news, lottery scores and movie schedules," Blake said.
She said these new customer services will take advantage of the additional bandwidth now being built into Charter's network through its aggressive $3.5 billion upgrade program. Through the upgrade and recent acquisitions, Charter expects to have 94 percent of its cable systems upgraded to 550 MHz or more. Of that, nearly 90 percent will be 750 MHz or greater.
Charter already is the industry leader in interactive TV services. The company has launched Internet access over the television via WorldGate in more than seven markets to date. WorldGate is an easy-to-learn service that lets customers surf the Internet over their televisions using either a remote control or special wireless keyboard.
In addition, Charter also has committed to introducing Wink in many of its cities. By the end of March, about 60,000 Charter customers will enjoy Wink service with more scheduled to have the service by the end of 2000.
Wink brings customers additional information related to the show they're watching. When the Wink icon appears on the TV screen, a customer just presses a button on the remote control to read the information. For example, Wink might appear during a basketball game with information about a certain player or the latest scores from other games.
"By pairing the aggressive rollout of advanced digital set-top boxes with some exciting services that take advantage of our expansive broadband capacity, Charter expects to see the majority of its 6.2 million customers subscribing to digital services within the next five years," Blake said.
Charter Communications, a Wired World(TM) company, is among the country's leading broadband communications companies. Charter serves approximately 6.2 million customers. Charter offers an array of services, including cable television under the Charter brand; high-speed Internet access via Charter Pipeline (TM); advanced digital video programming services under the Charter Digital Cable(TM) brand and Charter Paging(TM). More information about Charter can be accessed on the Internet at www.chartercom.com.
"Safe Harbor" Statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding Charter Communications' business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Prospectus.
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