EarthLink, EchoStar Bundle Satellite TV, DSL

With the twin forces of consolidation and deregulation reshaping the telecom industry, communications providers are turning to bundled services to win and keep subscribers.

Among the most popular packages is broadband Internet with digital cable TV and local and long distance calling from Comcast, RCN and others.

In a new twist on the formula comes a joint offering from EchoStar , operator of the DISH satellite TV service, and EarthLink , the nation’s third-largest Internet service provider.

The package, announced today, provides “an attractive entertainment and information package offering an alternative to digital cable packages,” said Mark Jackson, a senior vice president at EchoStar in Littleton, Colo.

Under the pact, customers will save up to $10 per month when purchasing EarthLink DSL Internet ($49.95 per month) and DISH programming. DISH customers must be new EarthLink customers and must subscribe to both services, with a minimum of DISH’s America’s Top 100 programming package ($39.99 per month).

Consumers outside EarthLink’s DSL coverage area can obtain a discount on DISH Network services bundled with EarthLink’s dial-up Internet access.

An EchoStar spokesman said with prices in line with cable modem/TV packages, the company will highlight what it believes are the advantages of satellite TV, such as greater channel selection.

“Providing Internet access through bundled service offerings like this one with DISH Network is another way EarthLink can provide customers with the products and service plans that best suit their needs,” said Erika Jolly, a vice president at EarthLink in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, DirecTV, which called off a merger with Echostar last year after objections from federal regulators, is reportedly for sale.

Published reports indicate that SBC Communications and News Corp. are potential buyers for DirecTV, which is owned b General Motors. Earlier, this year DirecTV dumped its satellite broadband service, saying it hadn’t signed enough subscribers to turn a profit.

If SBC, which provides broadband and dial-up Internet access, did buy DirecTV, it could result in additional packaged offerings. SBC already has a voice and high-speed Internet bundle.

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