Tapping into the marketing power retailers have over new PC buyers,
officials announced a deal Tuesday that
puts its cable Internet service on Micro Center PCs.
Dial up Internet service providers (ISPs) learned years ago to pepper
retail chains like Best Buy
with startup disks in the hope
customers would use them, rather than shop around for an ISP. It’s a
business practice so successful MSN
spent millions to
offer PC rebates to users who signed up to its dial up service.
Today’s deal is only available in Micro Center stores located where
EarthLink has an open access agreement with Time Warner Cable —
Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Tustin, Calif., Houston,
Long Island, N.Y. and Overland Park, Kan.
Earlier this year, EarthLink penned a
deal with Gateway
to provide cable modem service to
new PC users at a discount, to offset the rising costs of high-speed
Internet service. Normally available for approximately $45 around the
nation, Gateway customers signing a contract with EarthLink get their
service for $41.95 a month, with the first month free.
Brian Kovalesky, EarthLink spokesperson, said retailer partnership programs
like those mentioned above, as well as a cable deal with Circuit City, is a
definite boon and helped boost EarthLink’s broadband subscriber numbers by
72,000 last quarter, for a total of 604,000 broadband customers.
“The retail channel is important for EarthLink and part of our business
strategy,” he said. “It’s been very successful, and cable growth last
quarter was greater than DSL growth for the first time.”
The 604,000 subscribers is an aggregate number of DSL, cable and satellite
EarthLink plans to significantly improve its cable modem footprint next
year when and
if AT&T Broadband
opens its network to competing
ISPs. Ma Bell’s cable division is currently in the middle of a merger
with Comcast Corp.
, which would create the largest
cable network in the U.S.
EarthLink would have open access on two of the largest cable networks in
the U.S. when that happens, making its deals with retailers like Micro
Center and Gateway more encompassing. Currently, digital subscriber line
(DSL) service is the only broadband option EarthLink can offer on a
Micro Center and EarthLink have an existing relationship retailing DSL and
dial up service. It’s a partnership officials on both sides are happy to
continue. Kevin Flaherty, EarthLink vice president of retail sales, said
offering a broadband choice — DSL or cable — fits the chain’s customer base.
“EarthLink is the perfect fit for Micro Center’s tech-savvy clientele,” he