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RealTime IT News

SBC Entertains Home with 2Wire Venture

Continuing to push into areas previously dominated by cable companies, telecom carrier SBC has formed a joint venture with set-top specialist 2Wire to develop a new home entertainment service. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The offering will include TV programming from Echostar's DISH Network , on-demand music and video, caller ID and digital photo-sharing through Yahoo . (SBC has a longstanding partnership with Echostar and recently extended its pact with Yahoo.)

IT will also boast remote access, allowing subscribers to schedule digital video recording from any Web-computer through the SBC-Yahoo interface. A future feature will provide the same ability through wireless phones from Cingular, which SBC co-owns.

"Entertainment and integration are paramount to us this year," Andy Shaw, an SBC spokesman, told internetnews.com.

The service, which will require a digital subscriber line connection and satellite receiver, should be available in the San Antonio carrier's 13-state region by mid-2005. Rates have not been set but customers will pay a one-time leasing fee for the box plus a monthly fee, Shaw said.

The joint venture will run parallel to SBC's aggressive fiber initiative that will eventually bring massive amounts of bandwidth to SBC homes.

That project, which will lean heavily on Microsoft's iTV platform, is still at least two years from completion, and SBC doesn't want to lose entertainment customers in the meantime.

The SBC-2Wire joint venture should hit the ground running, since the companies already have a working relationship; 2Wire provides the home router kit for SBC-Yahoo's DSL service.

Ed Cholerton will serve as CEO of the newly formed SBC Media Solutions, as well as retain his current post of vice president of SBC DSL. Brian Hinman, 2Wire president and CEO, will become president of SBC Media Solutions.

In most other respects it will be a virtual operation. There will be no central office, and engineers from each company will work on the project without leaving their existing teams.