Charter Opens Network To Iserv

October 14, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Charter Communications Inc. and the Iserv Co. have announced a partnership, unique to the state and the industry, that provides new Internet choices for some Charter clients.

The partnership allows Iserv to provide high-speed cable Internet connection over the Charter network in Grand Haven and Spring Lake.

When Charter was looking for a complementary ISP partner, the two came together to talk about the possibility of collaborating to offer the service across Charter’s network.

“It made sense to grab on because I think Charter was looking for someone that was financially strong and had a good base of quality service issues. So based on those two things it made sense for us to come together,” said Vic Shepherd, CEO of the Iserv group of companies.

As a Charter reseller, Iserv will provide its own billing, customer support, e-mail and access to the Iserv Web site. Charter will maintain its network from its origination point to the customer’s home, but will serve only as the conduit and not attach its name to the product.

“This will be a good way for us to reach customers. And with as good as we know the Pipeline product is, there are some customers we won’t be able to reach because they are loyal to Iserv for their content, for their e-mail. This is an opportunity to interact and to reach those customers,” said Deb Seidel, spokesperson for Charter. “And where choice is at the heart of this we are allowing those customers that opportunity.”

Charter will continue to offer Charter Pipeline, its high-speed cable modem service, as well as video services in these markets. The firms did not disclose the deal’s terms.

Shepherd said the services to broadband cable customers should roll out within the next 30 days and will be provided through the Iserv group of companies, which includes Iserv and EagleNet. Additional Charter-connected communities around Michigan may be added to the program at a future date.

“This was the first agreement that we signed but I also expect that we will sign others across the country as well,” said Seidel.

“This agreement reflects Charter’s commitment to providing our customers with choice,” said Gary Mizga, vice president of operations for Charter’s Michigan region. “While many of our customers are loyal to Charter Pipeline, this partnership will allow customers to choose Iserv as their cable high-speed access provider.”

It also allows customers a choice in services. Where before Iserv customers were offered one option, they are now able to make a competitive choice, and Shepherd echoed Seidel by adding that choice is the key element.

“We are allowing our customers to choose the service that works best for them and we are even going to be packaging it differently. We are going to add on all the options and then sell it as a package. So while cable is strictly at your home, with our unique ability since we have our Web access and our dial-up access, the customer can use it at their home, at their office or when they travel,” said Shepherd.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring our unique cable Internet package to customers in Grand Haven and Spring Lake via the Charter Network. As high-speed connections continue to become not just a luxury but a necessity, it will be important for consumers to have a range of options, including access away from home.”

Each service targets different markets, thereby making the company more competitive, he said.

“Iserv and EagleNet are very enthusiastic about extending our locally based service and support further into this growing market,” said Shepherd. “We believe we have a unique understanding of the lakeshore community and look forward to offering creative new ideas, such as free dial-up accounts, that both add value and convenience.”           

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