And the Cow Jumped Over the Earth(link)

Cow-themed computer maker Gateway, Inc. and ISP provider EarthLink, Inc. Tuesday cut a deal to blaze a broadband trail across the U.S.

The news comes one day after SBC Communications and Yahoo! officially kicked off their SBC Yahoo Dial service with the promise of a combined DSL rollout in 13 of SBC’s operating states later in the summer.

The Gateway/Earthlink offer includes EarthLink High Speed Internet service over Time Warner Cable to Gateway consumers for $41.95 per month. The fee includes equipment, ongoing support and a free first month of service.

“A relationship between a top PC maker and a top ISP makes perfect sense, as these days most people are buying computers specifically to use the Internet,” said EarthLink vice president of channel sales John Kortier. “Because EarthLink has the biggest national broadband footprint in the industry, Gateway will be able to offer the service to more of its customers. And EarthLink will have another strong retail channel through which to sell it’s high-speed Internet services.”

The service also includes the standard EarthLink high-speed subscription, including eight e-mail accounts, 10MB of personal Web space and dial up roaming. The new service is available to Gateway customers purchasing a new Gateway PC or Gateway Your:)Ware bundle, or for those who want to upgrade their current PC with broadband capability.

The idea is to pull consumers into one of San Diego-based Gateway’s remaining 56 stores to preview EarthLink broadband access and quickly find out whether it’s available to their home.

Who knows? If customers don’t buy broadband, they might buy a PC.

“When home computer users are considering broadband, they want to talk face to face with people they trust,” said Mike Flanary, vice president of communications solutions, Gateway, Inc. “The Gateway-EarthLink alliance is a winning combination for consumers who want guidance during the decision process and industry-leading support from trusted providers.”

The deal is also meant to keep the competitive heat on both PC-makers and ISPs considering that Gateway lags fourth behind IBM, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard in computer manufacturing. Atlanta-based EarthLink boasts some 532,000 high-speed subscribers, but does not even come close to AOL’s numbers.

The price is also attractive. A recent check of cable Internet service prices finds the majority have been steadily increasing, from an average price of $43.21 to $44.95 — a 4 percent increase, according to research firm ARS.

Overall, 91 percent of all broadband service providers that have been in business since the beginning of 2001 have raised their rates since that time.

Experts predict that the competition provided by ISPs on the cable operators network will eventually drive down monthly rates, and make the transition from dial up more palatable.

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