SBC Rolls Out Bundled Services

SBC Communications is unveiling new bundled service offerings, saying customers want to simplify ordering and billing for Internet, phone and satellite TV services.

Currently, 7 million, or 22 percent of SBC subscribers, pay for some version of aggregated service. The San Antonio, Texas, Baby Bell says independent research shows an additional 38 percent are interested package programs — especially when they can choose services themselves.

The offerings take advantage of partnerships with Internet giant Yahoo!, wireless carrier Cingular and EchoStar, operator of the satellite TV DISH Network (bills for the satellite service appear on a seperate bill).

A bundle with Internet access, home and wireless calling starts at $85 per month. Several calling plans are available, as are additional services such as voicemail. By combining services, consumers can save $276 annually, SBC said.

In addition, SBC is expanding its long distance service to California. Pending approval by the FCC, the company hopes to introduce long distance in the Golden State by year’s end.

“Our goal is find the ‘rightsized’ plan for each customer,” said Ray Wilkins, president of SBC marketing and sales.

SBC operates mainly in the Midwest and Southwest. The packages, sold under the SBC Total Connections name, are available in all regions the company serves and are are expected to be sold in Connecticut soon.

Other telecoms have embraced the practice as well, believing that they will win new customers and retain existing ones through discounts and low-hassle billing.

This summer, Verizon Communications began offering packages combining local, toll and long distance, with mobile charges from its Verizon Wireless joint venture with Vodafone (Quote, Company Info), and Internet subscriptions from its Verizon Online DSL unit, on a single bill.

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