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Handbags at dawn between Excite and GTE

War of words breaks out over cable trials

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An unholy row has broken out today after Excite@Home accused GTE of publishing duff information over its Clearwater cable trials in a bid to "derail" the development of a broadband network in the US. Yesterday, GTE said it had clearly established that cable modem systems could be operated easily on an "open access" basis that would allow customers to select the ISP of their choice. Based on this trial, GTE Executive VP William P Barr fired the opening salvo of a war of words. "Using the excuse that it's not technically feasible to give customers a choice of ISPs, cable companies have been forcing their customers to pay for and use the ISPs that they own, such as @Home and RoadRunner," said Barr. "GTE's demonstration pilot flatly discredits the claim that open access and consumer choice are technologically complicated and costly," he said. Some sources were even speculating that the results of the trial -- conducted with AOL, CompuServe Classic, as well as its own ISP, GTE.net -- could lead to massive changes within the US cable market. Today, Excite@Home hit back saying that the Clearwater trial was "part of a political effort to derail development and deployment of the nation's broadband cable Internet system." Excite@Home accused the GTE trial of being too small to have any real value and lampooned it for addressing technical issues in a "naïve fashion". "Smothering the cable-modem industry in an early growth stage is not in America's best interest," said Milo Medin, founder and chief technology officer of Excite@Home. "GTE, AOL are now using this bit of political theater to preserve their market share, a share based on their dominance in the conventional dial-up market." ®

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