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IBM, SBC Form Broadband Pact

IBM Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. are looking to feed the need for speed in the small and home office marketplace.

IBM (IBM) and SBC (SBC) Wednesday joined forces to deliver one of the industry's first ADSL-ready personal computers systems.

The expanded relationship between the IBM and SBC will make it possible for millions of customers in the SBC's service area to purchase ADSL-enabled IBM Aptiva personal computers and Digital Subscriber Line access with just one phone call.

The deal provides IBM with access to about 10 million customers in SBC's service territory.

John Yengo, IBM personal systems group vice president of marketing, said Internet lifestyles are erasing traditional lines drawn between work access and home computing.

"With the rapid evolution of the Internet, the lines between work and home computing are blurring as everyone seems to be working from home," Yengo said.

"IBM is offering the connected solutions that meet the 24x7 demands of work and home computing lifestyles, delivering the potential to get the same level of performance and service at home that you get in the workplace," he added.

According to SBC, customers today are demanding super-fast, high capacity Internet access, for always-on convenience and for powering next-generation services. Some of the services home office users need are home networking, personal videoconferencing and cordless web devices.

James D. Gallemore, SBC executive vice-president of strategic marketing and planning, said the combination of IBM hardware and SMB broadband services makes for appealing broadband solution for high-speed home computing.

"SBC's DSL service is changing the way people work, play and live," Gallemore said. "Through powerful distribution channels, SBC continues to provide choices that make it easier for our customers to enjoy the benefits of SBC's DSL service."

Gellemore added that SBC's alliance with IBM would provide customers with the added convenience of one-stop DSL shopping for people don't have time to shop for a PC and broadband service.

International Data Corporation is an independent research firm based out of Framingham, MA. Raymond Boggs, IDC vice president of education research, said consumer's demand simplified broadband home access solutions.

"IBM's efforts focus on a demanding and vital group of customers, those working or learning at home," Boggs said.

"These customers are looking to sit at the grown-ups table in terms of capabilities and support. With a comprehensive broadband solution, IBM will improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of home productivity customers," he added.

Edward Whitacre, SBC chairman SBC, said that they expect to have more than one million high-speed Internet customers by the end of 2000.

"We will have one million customers by the end of next year," Whitacre said at the Warburg Dillon Read Global Telecom conference.

As SBC continues its aggressive broadband deployment through its recently announced "Project Pronto" initiative, the IBM-SBC DSL solution may potentially reach as many as 77 million Americans.

The SBC broadband service is available on IBM's Aptiva S Series 870 personal computer. The program is planned to roll-out initially in Arkansas, California, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas, and cover the remaining SBC service territories in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin in the early part of 2000.