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Excite@Home Goes Wholesale; Renews Partnerships

Excite@Home Wednesday extended its distribution agreements with principal cable partners AT&T Corp., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc.

AT&T (T) and Excite@Home (ATHM) extended their relationship through 2008, while Comcast (CMCSK) and Cox (COX) have extended their relationships through 2006.

The agreements will help facilitate the kind of relationship established by the December 6, 1999 agreement between AT&T and MindSpring Enterprises Inc. and bring third party cable providers to market.

The new distribution agreements reflect a major policy shift toward embracing competitive access on cable networks. Excite@Home and its cable partners are free to focus on developing their high-speed cable Internet services, as well as third-party wholesale services, over the coming years.

In doing so the broadband giant reorganized the governance of the Excite@Home. The move enhances Excite@Home's decision-making capabilities and its ability to capitalize on growth opportunities in the cable access market segments.

Tom Jermoluk, Excite@Home chairman, said the deals confirm that its cable partners are committed to a long-term relationship Excite@Home that would provide consumers with diverse broadband services.

"Our leadership position in broadband enables us and our cable partners to better pursue a wholesale business for third-party Internet Service Providers in addition to our existing business model that will make the cable platform even more competitive with other emerging platforms and attract more consumers," Jermoluk said.

Jermoluk added that the policy shift in no way threatens its cable broadband leadership.

"We believe that as we move into the next phase of leading the broadband revolution, we have the necessary assets to be the leaders in delivering broadband to consumers with our cable partners and wholesale services to third-party Internet service providers," Jermoluk said.

C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer, said AT&T can work even more effectively with Excite@Home to realize its goals for broadband cable services.

"We can extend Excite@Home across access platforms, add new capabilities of our own, and engage the creativity of third parties, such as content providers and other Web portals, to enrich the service." Armstrong said.

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast president, said the agreements mark progress in expanding its broadband services.

"We have made significant progress in reducing installation time and in expanding the online marketing, OEM, and retail channels that have accelerated our deployment of high-speed cable Internet services," Roberts said. "The extension of our agreements gives us clarity and the ability to continue our aggressive deployment of Comcast@Home."

David Woodrow, Cox executive vice president of business development, said the agreements mark the beginning of a new era in broadband communications.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how broadband information, communications, and entertainment services, combined with digital television technologies will dramatically change the way consumers use and view the Internet," Woodrow said.

Specifically, AT&T extended its distribution relationship with Excite@Home through 2008 and agreed to feature the Excite@Home portal on its cable Internet service through the same period. Excite@Home will als