Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Road Runner’s “beep beep” is about to get faster in the Triangle. A lot faster.

Time Warner Cable plans to launch what it calls a next generation broadband service around RTP and the city of Wilson sometime this spring, the company said Thursday.

Called “Wideband Internet,” it will provide consumers and businesses with faster connectivity as well as wireless capabilities, said Time Warner spokesperson Keith Poston.

Up to five devices can be connected at a time.

The Wideband modems also will have built-in wireless capability, Poston added.

Download speeds of up to 50 megabits – fast enough for movie streaming, for example – and upload speeds of as much as five megabits will be available.

Road Runner, Time Warner Cable’s existing high-speed Internet service, offers up to 7 megabits of speed for downloads and 1.5 megabits for uploads. An optional “Turbo” service is available at up to 10 megabits. (AT&T’s U-verse offers a top speed of 24 megabits.)

The cable firm had to upgrade both its network and hardware infrastructure to support the service, Poston explained. It already offers the service in Charlotte.

Prices are “still to be determined,” he added.

Current customers with cable TV will not have to swap out their set top boxes, but they will receive a new modem if they subscribe to Wideband.

For mobile access away from the home or office, subscribers would need Time Warner’s separate wireless broadband data service.

“For our residential customers, Wideband Internet gives all home network devices – desktops, laptops, gaming consoles and smart phones – our fastest connection,” said Christine Whitaker, Time Warner’s area vice president of operations, for the Triangle, coastal and Fayetteville areas.

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