Bell Atlantic Corp. is leveraging its rapid rollout of
digital-subscriber-line service by putting all-in-one connection kits on the shelves of
Mirroring what cable operators want to do with their
broadband-data services, Bell Atlantic is pairing with 3Com Corp. to offer an "ADSL
Home Connection Kit." It includes an internal DSL modem for desktop computers, four
phone-line microfilters to enable a "splitterless" connection and software
providing installation information and assistance.
The kits -- $229 suggested retail for Bell Atlantic.net
subscribers -- 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 for
cable modems and service, but none has moved to full-scale launches with major national
Retail represents a way to help cut subscriber-acquisition
and provisioning costs while marketing broadband Internet-access service as widely as
Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and other PC
makers have started bundling DSL modems with their products. But Bell Atlantic considers
its "DSL in a box" retail launch to be a forerunner of efforts that will
dramatically expand growth of the broadband platform.
3Com has announced another retailing initiative with
BellSouth Corp. that has not yet been launched.
Bell Atlantic, however, indicated at a news conference that
it 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 a
mass-market service," Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Joan Rasmussen said. "This is
getting 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 at
Customers interested in DSL can determine whether their
phone line is DSL-qualified via in-store access to Bell Atlantic's database, or they can
get that information through the telco's Web site.
The kit provides software to get information about service
packages and actually order service through an existing dial-up Internet connection. Bell
Atlantic said it would provision service within seven days.
After the line is activated, the customer is mailed a
CD-ROM to complete the installation.
The company provides around-the-clock telephone technical
support to subscribers, who pay $49.95 per month for an entry-level service package with
data speeds up to 640 kilobits per second.
Bell Atlantic has said that it plans to have 17 million
DSL-capable home and business lines by year-end. Service has been launched so far in
metropolitan Baltimore; Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; and
parts of New Jersey.