Bell Atlantic, 3Com Eye DSL Retail Launch

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Bell Atlantic Corp. is leveraging its rapid rollout ofdigital-subscriber-line service by putting all-in-one connection kits on the shelves ofmajor retailers.

Mirroring what cable operators want to do with theirbroadband-data services, Bell Atlantic is pairing with 3Com Corp. to offer an "ADSLHome Connection Kit." It includes an internal DSL modem for desktop computers, fourphone-line microfilters to enable a "splitterless" connection and softwareproviding installation information and assistance.

The kits -- $229 suggested retail for Bell Atlantic.netsubscribers -- will be offered beginning late this month in about 60 outlets of CompUSA,Staples and other retailers in markets where Bell Atlantic offers its"Infospeed" DSL service. After 60 days of service, customers are rebated $130.

Cable operators have begun limited retailing trials forcable modems and service, but none has moved to full-scale launches with major nationalretailers.

Retail represents a way to help cut subscriber-acquisitionand provisioning costs while marketing broadband Internet-access service as widely aspossible.

Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and other PCmakers have started bundling DSL modems with their products. But Bell Atlantic considersits "DSL in a box" retail launch to be a forerunner of efforts that willdramatically expand growth of the broadband platform.

3Com has announced another retailing initiative withBellSouth Corp. that has not yet been launched.

Bell Atlantic, however, indicated at a news conference thatit expects the new retail presence to account for 100,000 new subscribers by year's end.

"It's part of the evolution of getting to amass-market service," Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Joan Rasmussen said. "This isgetting closer to the day when customers will be able to go to their electronics store,buy a computer and come home with all of the parts they need to connect to the Internet athigh speed."

Customers interested in DSL can determine whether theirphone line is DSL-qualified via in-store access to Bell Atlantic's database, or they canget that information through the telco's Web site.

The kit provides software to get information about servicepackages and actually order service through an existing dial-up Internet connection. BellAtlantic said it would provision service within seven days.

After the line is activated, the customer is mailed aCD-ROM to complete the installation.

The company provides around-the-clock telephone technicalsupport to subscribers, who pay $49.95 per month for an entry-level service package withdata speeds up to 640 kilobits per second.

Bell Atlantic has said that it plans to have 17 millionDSL-capable home and business lines by year-end. Service has been launched so far inmetropolitan Baltimore; Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; andparts of New Jersey.

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