Yahoo, BellSouth Become Portal Partners

Yahoo will begin offering co-branded DSL on BellSouth’s network in late 2006, the companies announced Monday.

The agreement is a strategic alliance that combines Yahoo’s Web content with BellSouth’s nine-state broadband network. It also marks the third major telecom partnership in the U.S. for the Internet portal giant.

Yahoo signed a similar DSL co-branding agreement with SBC in November of 2001 and Verizon in January.

The portal giant also has similar arrangements with broadband cable Internet provider Rogers in Canada and British Telecom (BT) in the United Kingdom. Yahoo announced a long-term extension with BT on Friday, a partnership that began in June 2003.

Jim Schinella, Yahoo vice president of business development, said the company has been working for some time to come to an agreement with its latest Baby Bell partner. But the end result is that it sets them up as the pre-eminent global broadband partner.

“Four years ago we took a big step and entered a relationship with SBC and today we think that model with SBC has proven itself out with five successful alliances,” he said. “It all starts with the customer, providing a great customer experience and combining our ability to deliver a great customer experience with the assets of partners like BellSouth.”

Just how many people around the world are signed up to Yahoo’s co-branded broadband service is hard to determine. While customers do not need to pay a fee to Yahoo for the broadband service, Yahoo considers them a revenue-generating component because the service providers pay them a fee for every customer.

According to Nicole Leverich, a Yahoo spokeswoman, there are 10.1 million people under its fee-generating programs as of the second fiscal quarter of 2005, which include broadband users, Yahoo Personals, Mail Plus, LaunchPass and FantasyPass.

The company, however, hasn’t made much headway with cable and satellite broadband providers in the U.S. Yahoo’s arrangement with cable operator Rogers accounts for their only non-DSL access partner.

For example, Time Warner Cable and AOL, both divisions of Time Warner , have been partners since last year to provide a broadband content-access relationship.

“We’re continuing to look into all areas and we continue to have high-level discussions in process globally, by market, for these types of relationships,” Schinella said.

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