RealTime IT News

AT&T Brings Broadband To The Masses

AT&T Broadband is ramping up its cable Internet marketing efforts, announcing this week an agreement to provide its @Home and Road Runner service through Best Buy Inc., outlets.

The rollout marks AT&T's increased efforts at a piece of the lucrative high-speed Internet access pie, where the company faces stiff competition from Baby Bells and competitive local exchange carriers in the form of digital subscriber line service. @Home and Road Runner make up the largest cable Internet providers in the nation.

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said the agreement will bring about an increased public awareness of cable Internet.

"This alliance will bring broadband into the mainstream," Kagan said. "Customers will be able to buy brand-name broadband services from a brand-name retailer. "That's a powerful combination, and a natural extension of the evolution occurring in the industry today -- the retailing of services."

Best Buy, with 350 stores nationwide, will soon sport kiosks touting the benefits of AT&T's high-speed cable Internet access and digital TV. According to Best Buy officials, most of its stores fall in AT&T's cable Internet service area. The few that don't will not have a display on the floor.

Best Buy has a similar arrangement with Microsoft Corp. to inform consumers about its dial up Internet endeavor, the Microsoft Network.

According to Best Buy spokesperson Joy Harris, it's all part of her company's efforts to give its customers selection.

"Our deals with Microsoft and AT&T are the first of several alliances we plan to announce by the end of the third quarter, which for us ends Nov. 25," Harris said. "Our objective with these alliances is to give our customers a choice when they look for Internet access. The location of these future announcements will start in several metropolitan areas, then expand nationwide in the future."

Dan Hillen, AT&T Broadband vice president of sales and distribution, said the deal gives customers a chance to experience high-speed services firsthand.

"Our customers tell us they want more convenient ways to learn about and buy our products," Hillen said. "The alliance with Best Buy makes it easier to shop for broadband products and services by giving consumers an opportunity to see how the services actually work. They'll be able to make purchasing decisions that make the most sense for them and their particular needs."