RealTime IT News

Telecom Giant Launches Co-Branded Net Services

AT&T WorldNet Service Wednesday debuted its co-branded Internet access program by signing-up a powerful foursome of firms.

The WorldNet partnership program allows businesses to offer their customers full-featured dial-up services in affiliation with the AT&T Corp. Internet division.

WorldNet forged co-branding agreements with Sam's Club, Flooz.com, Toshiba America, and USA TODAY.

Each dial-up partner has different plans to launch their co-branded Internet access programs over the next several months. The WorldNet marketing scheme enables the companies to offer customers a value-added service designed to drive more traffic to their Web sites.

Ed Chatlos, AT&T WorldNet Service vice president and general manager said the offer presents a powerful marketing tool to partners.

"The combination of our Internet service and world-class reliability gives our program participants a powerful tool to keep their brand top-of-mind with consumers, drive more traffic to their own sites and provide targeted offers and communications to their customers," Chatlos said.

The heart of WorldNet's co-branded service is its so-called i495 program launched earlier this year. The co-branded version of its reduced-fee connectivity features a multi-function toolbar that delivers constant advertising messages, as well as access to e-mail and search functions.

Program member links also receive prominent placement at WorldNet's electronic storefront for cross-promotions with WorldNet members.

AT&T WorldNet's i495 program is an advertising supported service plan that provides subscribers with unlimited dial-up access for $5 a month, as long as they accept a constant stream of advertisements.

SAM'S Club intends to reward their new top shoppers with the co-branded WorldNet offer. SAM's Club is also offering a $10 merchandise rebate when shoppers upgrade to its "elite" buying program.

In September, USA TODAY plans to offer its daily newspaper in tandem with the WorldNet i495 program for $13 a month. Toshiba will be offering the service as part of a software bundle on a limited lineup of desktop and notebook personal computers.

Online shopping promoter Flooz.com intends to utilize AT&T's Internet program to enhance customer loyalty. Flooz.com prospects will receive a bundled promotion that nets customers $30 in Flooz.com gift certificates for $20, when they sign up for the WorldNet i495 service.

AT&T's Chatlos said that co-branded Internet services are a great value for retailers, financial services, the travel and leisure industry, pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, online marketers and equipment manufacturers.

"The interest in AT&T's i495 Offer from such a broad set of industry participants is an obvious endorsement of our program," said Chatlos. "These companies recognize the value of building a relationship with a world-class company like AT&T when providing ISP services to their customers."

However, AT&T WorldNet is a little late to the co-branding game that is currently dominated by no-fee ISPs and access facilitators like NetZero, Inc. , 1stUp.com, and Spinway, Inc.

WorldNet may also benefit by up-selling i495 clients to more profitable high-speed services like digital subscriber line and cable modem access. Juno Online Services, Inc. has made service upgrades the mainstay of their marketing plan for quite some time. In doing so, Juno has aggregated an online community of more than 11 mi