RealTime IT News

Excite@Home Pens Deal With Sony

Excite@Home Corp. hopes Sony Corp. VAIO customers are looking for high-speed Internet access, signing a distribution agreement Monday with the PC maker to run an @Home Internet demonstration on its desktop.

The demo, which features video footage and audio clips, is designed to bring new Sony's PC customers to the Excite@Home cable Internet Web site and signed on as paying customers.

Whether the popularity of attaching a coaxial cable to a notebook PC will catch on is another question. Sony is touting VAIO, released earlier this year, as a compact, reliable multimedia studio for video and audio enthusiasts.

While the notebook PC has enjoyed some good reviews for its overall performance, the VAIO was blasted by critics for its difficulty of getting owners connected to the Internet.

Byron Smith, Excite@Home executive vice president of consumer broadband services and chief marketing officer, said the agreement gives customers a taste of high-speed, always-on Internet.

"This agreement streamlines the setup of the @Home service and simplifies the process of getting broadband to consumers," Smith said. "We think this relationship will undoubtedly help accelerate broadband awareness and usage."

As part of the agreement, every VAIO computer comes with a pre-installed network interface card and the demo's icon located on the desktop.

People with an existing Internet account can click on a link taking them to the Excite@Home site, letting them find out if their home is @Home ready. Then, it's just a matter of setting up a time for a technician to plug in the coaxial cable to the computer.

Excite@Home, the 11th largest Internet service provider in the nation and largest cable Internet provider, is looking to beat the competition in its race to get high-speed Internet subscribers.

Not only is it in a foot race with rival cable Internet provider Road Runner, which is only a quarter-million behind with 1 million subscribers, it must compete with the popularity of digital subscriber line and up-and-coming wireless Internet services.

Cable holds the early advantage because of its deep market penetration, making it a game of catchup for rival broadband competitors. And Excite@Home's Internet price tag at $39.95 a month puts it slightly lower than most DSL and wireless offerings, which offer service in the mid-$40 to $50 a month range.