Time Warner eyes limited WiMax service late '09

NEW YORK Mon Dec 1, 2008 12:53pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc plans to offer limited wireless services in late 2009 or early 2010 using the WiMax high-speed wireless network that Clearwire Corp is building, the cable company's finance chief said on Monday.

Time Warner has invested $550 million in the $14.5 billion Clearwire venture, with other partners including Sprint Nextel Corp and cable companies such as Comcast. The deal closed last Friday.

"You should expect to hear more about our plans in the course of first part of 2009," Marcus told the Reuters Media Summit. "We're talking about something that would be very limited, a single market or a couple of markets late 2009, maybe 2010."

The cable companies see Clearwire as a way to compete with telephone rivals such as Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, which have started to offer video services.

But Marcus said that before Time Warner starts using the emerging WiMax technology to sell high-speed wireless services to its own customers, it has to figure out a way to convince consumers to buy wireless from a cable company.

"We still have to develop what the product set is. We have to give customers a reason to buy wireless from an unnatural seller," he said, comparing the new area to Time Warner's entry into telephone services.

Marcus said that the company currently has no plans to invest additional capital into the venture, which needs extra funding to build a nationwide network and declined to estimate when Time Warner would see a return on the investment.

(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Derek Caney)

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