[email protected] Pens Deal With Sony

[email protected] Corp. hopes Sony Corp. VAIO customers are looking for
high-speed Internet access, signing a distribution agreement Monday with
the PC maker to run an @Home Internet demonstration on its desktop.

The demo, which features video footage and audio clips, is designed to
bring new Sony’s PC customers to the [email protected] cable Internet Web site and signed on as paying customers.

Whether the popularity of attaching a coaxial cable to a notebook PC will
catch on is another question. Sony is touting VAIO, released earlier this
year, as a compact, reliable multimedia studio for video and audio enthusiasts.

While the notebook PC has enjoyed some good reviews for its overall
performance, the VAIO was blasted by critics for its difficulty of getting
owners connected to the Internet.

Byron Smith, [email protected] executive vice president of consumer broadband
services and chief marketing officer, said the agreement gives customers a
taste of high-speed, always-on Internet.

“This agreement streamlines the setup of the @Home service and simplifies
the process of getting broadband to consumers,” Smith said. “We think this
relationship will undoubtedly help accelerate broadband awareness and usage.”

As part of the agreement, every VAIO computer comes with a pre-installed
network interface card and the demo’s icon located on the desktop.

People with an existing Internet account can click on a link taking them to
the [email protected] site, letting them find out if their home is @Home
ready. Then, it’s just a matter of setting up a time for a technician to
plug in the coaxial cable to the computer.

[email protected], the 11th largest
Internet service provider
in the nation and largest cable Internet
provider, is looking to beat the competition in its race to get high-speed
Internet subscribers.

Not only is it in a foot race with rival cable Internet provider Road Runner, which is only a
quarter-million behind with 1 million subscribers, it must compete with the
popularity of digital subscriber line and up-and-coming wireless Internet
services.

Cable holds the early advantage because of its deep market penetration,
making it a game of catchup for rival broadband competitors. And
[email protected]’s Internet price tag at $39.95 a month puts it slightly lower
than most DSL and wireless offerings, which offer service in the mid-$40 to
$50 a month range.

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