BellSouth, DirecTV Push Packages

Rebuffing cable rivals and rounding out bundled offerings, regional carrier BellSouth has partnered with satellite TV provider DirecTV. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Starting next year, the service will be in BellSouth’s “Answers” package, which includes DSL or dial-up Internet access, local and long distance calling and wireless.

“Both parties are very much incented to make this work (because of) the increasingly competitive markets we face,” BellSouth CTO Bill Smith said.

Video is not altogether foreign to BellSouth. The Atlanta company sells cable TV through in some of its markets and at one point had flirted with launching its own satellite service.

The companies will also explore melding satellite and DSL technology, which could lead to more offerings.

Pricing for satellite TV was not announced, but will be lower than if bought on its own, the companies said. Smith said BellSouth was adding DirecTV’s ordering software to its call centers.

For El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV, the pact mirrors last month’s deal with Denver-based Qwest . Qwest is addding satellite TV services available in Phoenix, Tucson and Seattle.

Other carriers have similar strategies, believing that a single point of contact for all residential communications services will reduce customer churn — jumping between different service providers.

SBC Communications and EchoStar, which operates the DISH Network, is another example. Those companies will offer bundles in SBC’s coverage area (13 states in the Midwest and West) in early 2004.

In addition to adding satellite TV, some carriers, including Verizon , are providing free Wi-Fi access to their subscribers in certain markets.

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