RealTime IT News

SBC Offers Bargain-Basement Broadband

SBC is stooping to a new low in the fight for broadband subscribers -- $14.95 per month.

The San Antonio, Texas, carrier is offering its basic SBC Yahoo DSL service (which delivers speeds of 384Kbps to 1.5Mbps) for $14.95 per month. The price, which is lower than some dial-up ISPs, is limited to new customers who order online and commit to one year.

In addition, Yahoo DSL Pro, which features faster data transfer rates (1.5Mbps to 3Mbps), is being sold at $24.99 per month for a 12-month term.

"The offer will be available for a limited time; no ending date has been set," Destiny Belknap, an SBC spokeswoman, told internetnews.com.

SBC, which is already the largest DSL provider in the United States with more than 5.6 million lines in service, is looking to tempt cable broadband users to switch and dial-up subscribers to upgrade.

That could force rivals, such as Comcast and AOL, to look at their own pricing and strategy. Spokeswomen for the companies were not immediately available to comment on what moves, if any, they'll make in response.

Cable companies, which stress faster speeds in their broadband marketing, typically charge around $40 per month, while many dial-up companies are still in the $15 to $20 range.

The price slashing is also part of a wider effort by SBC to reduce overhead by encouraging customers to pay their bills, check their accounts, ask for technical help and order new services through the SBC Web site rather than the call center.

"The online advantage we're giving customers also benefits us," Scott Helbing, senior vice president of SBC's consumer marketing efforts, said in a statement. "Web transactions allow us to lower our cost of doing business."

Besides savings through online transactions, SBC hopes its new customers will opt for other subscription services, such as its FreedomLink Wi-Fi offering. As carriers add more premium content, such as games and Voice over IP , a huge customer base becomes important to maximize potential revenues.

DSL prices have been heading lower, especially when bundled with phone and video services. However, SBC's cut puts it nearly on par with many bare-bones services.