Time Warner Cable starts high-speed chase in North Carolina

It's somehow appropriate that one of the hottest high-speed broadband races in the country is taking place in NASCAR territory. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI), which has about half the broadband Internet audience in the Mecklenburg County, N.C. (home of Charlotte) has boosted speeds for its standard Internet service from 7 to 10 Mbps. The move is indirectly (or directly if you please) aimed at customers who might be cutting the cord to chase down Internet-based video content.

During a recent third quarter earnings conference call, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said the MSO is "very pleased" with the new offering which is part of a triple play "targeted at high ARPU customers who want all of our best-in-class products and who demand a much more personalized service experience." That experience will cost about $3 a month for customers who don't have bundled services starting in December.

TWC's competition in the North Carolina market comes primarily from AT&T (NYSE: T), which serves about a quarter of the market and isn't ready to match the Time Warner speed boost at the same price, although it is offering a geographically limited edition of its 24 Mbps service for $65 a month.

"There is an arms race to build up speed," Frank Perazzini, an analyst for J.D. Power and Associates told the Charlotte Observer. "The driver is really Internet-based video."

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