TWC puts premium on cable appointments; Wi-LAN sues cable operators

> Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) is taking steps to resolve one of the cable industry's bigger issues--and the punchline of innumerable jokes--by setting specific service appointment times for customers. The MSO, however, is opening itself up for more potential ridicule, however, because it's only making the service available to premium subscribers who pay $189.95 a month for its new Signature Home service, being tested in Charlotte, N.C. with rollout plans for the rest of the country in the next few weeks. In addition to the appointment times, Signature Home subscribers will get a 24-hour-a-day personal service adviser and specially trained technicians who make house calls based on reserved times. Typically, TWC subscribers get a three-hour appointment window. Story.

> Wi-LAN, which bills itself as a technology licensing firm, has filed lawsuits against Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) alleging cable modem patent infringement covering a hybrid telephone/cable TV system that transmits data to remote networks and computers. The three MSOs join a potpourri of Wi-LAN targets across wireless, computing and networking spaces. Story.

> Talk about beating a dead horse--or in this case, dead donkey, live elephant--Free Press has released a report that it says backs up its contention that the FCC has the legal authority to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. Not only does the FCC have the authority, it has the "duty to step into the void and to reclassify broadband," according to Aparna Sridhar, Free Press policy counsel and the report's author. Of course all those new congressional folks flooding into Washington after the mid-term elections have other thoughts about what the FCC can and should do, and, as far as anyone's been able tell so far, these don't include regulating broadband. News release.

> Old timers have been known to reminisce about the days when a car transported a driver and passengers between two sites--with maybe a little radio or recorded music along for the ride. Those days are so far gone that iSuppli is predicting that there will be 7.2 million car WiFi systems in use by 2017. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the market intelligence firm thinks that are already 174,000 of such systems in cars today. Story.

And finally... bad news for cord cutters. It looks as if content providers and advertisers alike are eyeing you as a potential trapped audience for their wares. Research conducted by Tuner Broadcasting even suggests that programmers could surround online shows with more ads than there are on broadcast television according to a story in the New York Times.