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Rogers goes 'Ultra-Lite' with 64 kbps service

Thu, 06/03/2004 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Aiming to convert dial-up users to the broadband side of the Internet spectrum, Canadian MSO Rogers Cable Inc. has launched a new "Ultra-Lite" cable modem service in Ontario and New Brunswick.

The service, which sells for $19.95 per month, caps upstream and downstream speeds at 64 kbps, just north of what Internet users can squeeze out of their dial-up modems. A key difference, Rogers points out, is that Ultra-Lite is "always on," eliminating the need for customers to dial in every time they want to use the Internet.

Ultra-Lite complements a 128 kbps up/64 kbps "Lite" service Rogers offers for $29.95 per month.

On the high end, Rogers' Hi-Speed Internet Extreme tier (5 Mbps up/800 kbps down) sells for $44.95 per month after a $20 introductory rebate. "Extreme" customers must also purchase their own DOCSIS cable modem for $99.95. The MSO's flagship tier (3 Mbps down/384 kbps up) sells for $44.95 per month.

Rogers had roughly 828,500 cable modem subs at the end of the first quarter. The company does not break down those numbers by service tier, but the "vast majority" continue to take the 3 Mbps service, said Rogers spokeswoman Taanta Gupta.

Several other MSOs already offer "lite" tiers, but don't necessarily market them in the open. Instead, many use the lower tiers to retain customers who don't want to pay for a flagship service that offers 1.5 Mbps downstream or more.

Rogers is also using "lite" tiers to retain customers who are looking to downgrade from the 3 Mbps service based on price. Still, the 3 Mbps and 5 Mbps services represent "our prime marketing focus," Gupta said, noting that those tiers are best suited for a broadband service package Rogers plans to launch later this year with Yahoo!

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