Charter Communications Inc. is preparing to become the next MSO to join the few, the proud, the testers of multiple ISP access.

A Charter spokesman said the MSO is preparing a multiple ISP trial this fall, perhaps as early as October, in a market where it already offers cable modem service from ExciteAtHome Corp. The operator will market its Charter Pipeline brand as the alternative ISP, he said. Though Charter has not named where the pilot will take place, the operator markets the AtHome service in cities such as Albert Lea, Minn.; Asheville, N.C.; Athens and Gainesville, Ga.; Bay City, Mich.; Brainard, Minn.; Central, Ore.; Crescent City, Calif.; Gainesville, Ga.; and Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C., among others.

Charter indicated that open access was on the agenda earlier this month when it inked a deal to deploy BroadJump Inc.'s "Virtual Truck Installer" and "Virtual Truck Qualifier" software across the MSO's high-speed consumer base.

In addition to speeding deployments, Charter said the software would help open the door to future open access deployments by enabling customers to choose from a variety of ISPs supported by a particular system.

BroadJump's software "also takes it one step further by unifying the process across our diverse environment with the support of multiple ISPs," said Charter Chief Operation Officer Dave Barford, in a statement.

Operators such as AT&T Broadband, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner have either launched or are preparing to launch multiple ISP trials.

While BroadJump's installation software is designed to speed deployments, its qualifier technology helps determine whether a subscriber's PC has enough horsepower to support cable modem service prior to an MSO installation truck roll.

BroadJump also has deployment deals with Time Warner Cable, Adelphia Communications, AT&T Broadband, BellSouth Corp., SBC Communications Inc. and Sprint Corp, among others.