We have to partner with a number of different vendors in order to gain Internet access. So what we're doing is we're working with a number of "best of breed" third-party vendors to be able to help us with the provisioning of the IP address information and different connections out to the Internet. By working with those folks, we're able to move that along very quickly.
The goal on this is that it will be a 100 percent managed network and the vendors that we're working with are all well established within the field. We're pretty confident that by having an end-to-end solution where we're managing the whole network we're going to be able to prevent these kinds of occurrences from happening again.
How many people in Maryland use the Comcast high-speed Internet service?
The only number I have is the national number. It was a little under 800,000 by the end of September.
Did you receive a lot of complaints after you sent out the e-mails warning that service might be interrupted?
No, we got some calls from customers that were concerned about what would happen.
Are you concerned that this might turn people off from getting broadband access?
No. I think if you look at the value of a broadband connection, it is just such a different experience from a traditional dial-up modem. I'm very confident that once we're able to bring our customers over to this new network that it is going to accelerate the growth of this business.
But there are other ways to get broadband; you don't have to go to Comcast.
So do you think that this might encourage people to look elsewhere?
I think that ultimately we're doing the right thing by our customers with this, and that's going to pay dividends. We've taken this whole situation very seriously and we've done the best we can to make sure that customers' service won't be interrupted. I feel pretty comfortable that this is not going to hurt us.
I think that some customers were so concerned about losing access because they were running e-commerce- type businesses using their Comcast Internet connections. To them, losing their link would put them out of business. What would you say to those people who felt out of the loop -- that there were things going on in a California bankruptcy court that might affect their bottom line?
Well, I'd say that our ability to negotiate this new deal with Excite combined with the roll-out of this new network that's going to be 100 percent managed by Comcast is going to provide greater service and reliability so they don't have to worry about this kind of thing happening again.
But in terms of looking back, is there something you wish you had handled differently?
I think we handled it as best we could given all the different situations. Obviously, there were a number of individuals involved with this from the bankruptcy court to Excite to the folks that were owed money by Excite. There were a lot of different folks involved in that process, and I thought we did a good job of handling it.
Do you have any projections for the type of market growth you are hoping to see with this Comcast-run service?
I don't have any specifics on broadband usage, but I do know that our ability to develop this new network is going to allow us to provide new products and services down the road. We'll be able to do video conferencing, secondary IP telephony where customers can actually use it for voice, and also video chat rooms. There are a lot of new products and services that come as a result of the network, so we're excited about our ability to build it.