WIRED FOR SPEED

CABLE-TV OPERATORS HAVE STARTED SELLING SOMETHING COMPUTER USERS ARE DYING FOR--BLISTERINGLY FAST ACCESS TO THE INTERNET

Pity the poor beleaguered cable guy. Direct-broadcast satellites are eroding his turf from the air while the Baby Bells and the burgeoning Internet creep in over the phone system. Worse still, he faces this growing competition while trying to shake a public image only a bit more benign than Saddam Hussein's.

The cable empire is finally striking back. Its secret weapon: blisteringly fast access to the Internet, courtesy of the cable modem, an electronic gadget that connects computers to the outside world via cable-TV lines instead of phone lines. In the past two weeks, America's two largest cable operators, TCI and...

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