(Updated from 10:44 a.m.)
Comcast Cable Communications
said Wednesday it would offer
high-speed Internet access to customers of its cable service, the nation's third-largest. The new Internet service, dubbed Juno Express, will get a trial run in the Philadelphia market starting in 2001.
Under the terms of the deal, customers will be offered the option of using Juno's service rather than service provided by
, which has been Comcast's exclusive Internet provider.
The agreement between Juno, the third-largest dial-up Internet provider, and Comcast is significant in light of the regulatory difficulties faced by
in their proposed merger. The
Federal Trade Commission
has made it clear that the merged company, which would combine the nation's largest Internet provider with the No. 2 cable provider, would have to open its high-speed cable lines to competing Internet access companies in order to avoid antitrust charges.
Juno was in talks a few weeks ago with AOL and Time Warner to place its high-speed service on Time Warner's cable systems. Rival
has already signed an Internet-access contact with AOL and Time Warner.
Juno hasn't scrapped plans to deal with AOL and Time Warner. A Juno spokesman said the company still has a letter of intent to do business with the proposed merger partners, which it hopes to turn into a signed contract soon. "The Comcast deal is a supplement to that," the spokesman said.