Juno and the King of the Media Gods are about to tie the knot.
Time Warner Cable announced Monday a preliminary agreement with Juno Online Services Inc. to offer high-speed Internet service to cable customers, the companies said.
The New York-based company will be the first new Internet service provider to reach an agreement with Time Warner Cable for broadband access, since the announcement of Time Warner's merger with America Online. Time Warner Cable currently provides broadband Internet access through Road Runner.
CBS MarketWatch reports that under the deal, both companies will market Juno Express to their customers and will be able to price and package it independently. Time Warner will be responsible for installing the service in customers' homes.
New York-based Time Warner's promise to open its cable system to competing Internet service providers is being carefully monitored by regulators. The issue was highlighted on Thursday during Federal Communications Commissions hearings on the Time Warner-AOL merger.
The merger has been criticized by NBC, ABC, and consumer groups, who fear that the combination could result in an unfair concentration of power.
"This groundbreaking agreement underscores Time Warner Cable's commitment to offer its cable customers a choice of Internet service providers," Glenn Britt, president of Time Warner Cable, said in a statement. He said the company would try to sign agreements with other Internet service providers, or ISPs.
At Thursday's regulatory hearings, FCC Chairman William Kennard challenged AOL chairman Steve Case and Time Warner chief Gerald Levin to offer details about when the cable systems would begin carrying other Internet providers.
Levin said the company was working to open access by restructuring an agreement with Road Runner LLC, a joint venture between Time Warner and AT&T, and the only ISP currently available to Time Warner Cable subscribers. Levin said the company is conducting technical trials of how such a system would operate.
Levin also issued an open invitation to any Internet provider that wanted to talk to Time Warner about operating on the company's cable systems, and predicted that an agreement with a separate online service business was forthcoming.
Time Warner Cable and Juno said that rollout dates for the Juno service would depend on Time Warner renegotiating its exclusive agreement with Road Runner.
Time Warner Cable has more than 12.6 million customers nationwide.
New York-based Juno offers both free and paid Internet access. It had 3 million active subscribers in March, making it the third largest ISP after AOL and EarthLink.
©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report