RealTime IT News

Microsoft, Qwest in Broadband Alliance

In a five-year strategic alliance with Qwest Communications International Inc., Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it would offer its MSN Internet access and services over the high-speed Internet network provided by the communications giant.

For the past two years, companies have either looked within or pitched competitors with plans to expand their high-speed access and services. Most would-be contenders in the Internet space realize that until high-speed connectivity is available to consumers advertisers and businesses will stay offline.

In a prepared statement, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said "This agreement will be instrumental in delivering broadband to mainstream consumers.

The promise of broadband access to every home has been much romanced, but few homes have access. We're gratified that Qwest sees benefit in advertising its services on MSN."

As a part of the agreement, Qwest will be charged with marketing MSN Internet Access and its services to consumers. In turn, MSN will commit to buying high-speed, digital subscriber lines (DSL), dial ports and billing and collection services from Qwest.

Ballmer declined to provide the rates the two companies would charge to hook up customers to its DSL services, but said consumers could expect an "aggressive offer."

Qwest, which operates a national fiber optic telecommunications network and provides local telephone service in 14 states, will also promote its services on MSN Internet sites and other Microsoft properties, including MSNBC and online magazine Slate, MSN Music, Zone.com and the Microsoft bCentral small business portal.

Denver-based Qwest said that beginning this summer, 500,000 existing Qwest.net subscribers and new customers in its local service area would receive the MSN Internet Access service.

In early morning going, shares in Microsoft were trading at $70.77, up $1.08 from yesterday's close at $69.69.

Qwest was trading at $38.76, down 14 cents from yesterday's close at $38.90.