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RealTime IT News

SBC-Yahoo! Push for More DSL Subscribers

Within the 13-state reach of SBC Communications, Inc. there is no question that the Yahoo! and SBC co-branding deal that was penned in June 2002 is in full marketing force.

A regional Bell company that owns several Internet access companies and 58 million access lines nationwide, SBC network subsidiaries include SBC Southwestern Bell, SBC Ameritech, SBC Pacific Bell, SBC Nevada Bell, SBC SNET, and Sterling Commerce. SBC also owns 60 percent of Cingular Wireless.

In essence, the partnership between the world's number one Internet portal and SBC gave both companies a recipe for creating a portal-based, content-rich DSL and dial-up service that would pack more punch than the average Internet Service Provider and lure in the estimated 26 million consumers who are not yet signed up for an Internet service.

It also provided SBC with a more alluring, broadband-friendly platform from which to promote DSL service nationwide.

"Our strategy was to go beyond always-on high-speed Internet access and give our customers a service that they can really personalize more than any other service out there," SBC spokesperson Michael Coe told internetnews.com.

As part of its strategy to increase its DSL subscriber base and promote dial-up services as well, SBC Yahoo! announced plans Tuesday to implement an automated switching service aimed to entice dial-up users currently with rival ISPs to transition over to SBC Yahoo!

Once a new subscriber has signed up for either DSL or Dial service with SBC Yahoo! the new service would automatically import their personal preference information from a pervious ISP into SBC Yahoo!'s server. Although the ISP switching system will not work if a user's account has been terminated by their ISP prior to changing accounts.

The current SBC Yahoo! DSL and Dial installation process enables new customers to import some preferences, but the new switching tools will make it even easier, said Coe.

E-mail addresses would need to be changed, said Coe, but SBC Yahoo! would send an automatic e-mail to all contact list members notifying them of the change of address. Coe added that SBC Yahoo! is still in the process of defining of what preference information would be retained in the switchover process, but at the moment the list includes e-mail address information, calendar contents, and some file folders.

"The thought of all that personal information they've input into a service and then losing all that when they make a switch from a previous ISP can create problems," said Coe. "So we've introduced a tool that makes that process easier. It takes the hassle out of switching."

SBC Yahoo!'s new switching tools are still months away from being realized, said Coe, and will use third party company Esaya Inc., a New York-based server-based switching service. The switching service will only work with some ISPs, which will be announced in the coming months.

"We believe many consumers stay with their current dial-up providers because they're daunted by the process of migrating their personal information," said Jim Brock, senior vice president of major initiatives, Yahoo! Inc. "SBC and Yahoo! are removing that barrier and making it easier for consumers to quickly and easily move to a richer, more personalized Internet experience."

SBC Yahoo!'s automated switching tools are only available to new subscribers, the company said, and require a one-year agreement with SBC Yahoo!