SBC Entertains Home with 2Wire Venture

Continuing to push into areas previously dominated by cable companies,
telecom carrier SBC has formed a joint venture with
set-top specialist 2Wire to develop a new home entertainment service.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The offering will include TV programming from Echostar’s DISH Network , on-demand music and video, caller ID and digital
photo-sharing through Yahoo . (SBC has a longstanding
partnership with Echostar and recently extended
its pact with Yahoo.)

IT will also boast remote access, allowing subscribers to schedule digital
video recording from any Web-computer through the SBC-Yahoo interface. A
future feature will provide the same ability through wireless phones from
Cingular, which SBC co-owns.

“Entertainment and integration are paramount to us this year,” Andy Shaw, an
SBC spokesman, told internetnews.com.

The service, which will require a digital subscriber line
connection and satellite receiver, should be available in the San Antonio
carrier’s 13-state region by mid-2005. Rates have not been set but customers
will pay a one-time leasing fee for the box plus a monthly fee, Shaw said.

The joint venture will run parallel to SBC’s aggressive fiber initiative
that will eventually bring massive amounts of bandwidth to SBC homes.

That project, which will lean heavily
on Microsoft’s iTV platform, is still at
least two years from completion, and SBC doesn’t want to lose
entertainment customers in the meantime.

The SBC-2Wire joint venture should hit the ground running, since the
companies already have a working relationship; 2Wire provides the home
router kit for SBC-Yahoo’s DSL service.

Ed Cholerton will serve as CEO of the newly formed SBC Media Solutions, as
well as retain his current post of vice president of SBC DSL. Brian Hinman,
2Wire president and CEO, will become president of SBC Media
Solutions.

In most other respects it will be a virtual operation. There will be no
central office, and engineers from each company will work on the project
without leaving their existing teams.

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