Bell Atlantic Corp. has begun offering Boston-area
customers one of the industry's most aggressive bundles to date: a combination of
video, high-speed Internet and wireless phone.
The direct-mail promotion, which runs through the end of
this month, combines DirecTV Inc.'s direct-broadcast satellite service, Bell
Atlantic's "Infospeed" digital subscriber line and Bell Atlantic Mobile
Targeted consumers who take advantage of the offer receive
free installation of the DSL modem, free installation of a DirecTV dish and up to two DBS
receivers and free airtime if they buy a "DigitalChoice" wireless plan from Bell
"This is unique," Bell Atlantic Consumer
Marketing director of packaging Amy Sherter said. "No one else has the mix of video,
high-speed and wireless."
The offer is available in four area codes in eastern
Massachusetts, especially to towns equipped for DSL service. Customers who don't
qualify for DSL can still take advantage of the other aspects of the bundle, Sherter said.
Bell Atlantic is not advertising the promotion to the mass
market, instead limiting the marketing to direct mail. "We want to market to those
who meet the right demographic, who have a need for the package," Sherter said.
Boston is the first of many markets throughout its
footprint where the telephone company plans to introduce this promotion, Sherter said.
"It's a highly competitive market with sophisticated customers," she added.
"MediaOne [Group Inc.] has been pushing its
cable-modem service fairly aggressively in the Boston market," B.G. Marketing Inc.
president Barbara Sullivan said, and RCN Corp. has also entered the market. She added that
Bell Atlantic's move to bundle multiple services was a smart one: "The first to
market will get the low-hanging fruit."
When MediaOne merges with AT&T Corp., the MSO will also
have access to wireless phone service, she said, "but that's probably not going
to happen within minutes."
Partnering with telephone companies to provide DSL gives
DBS providers at least a short-term solution for offering the types of multiple services
larger cable operators can already provide.
Bundling broadband Internet services with video "is
important because DirecTV, together with our telco partners, shares a common competitor in
the form of cable companies," DirecTV vice president of special markets Helen Latimer
said in a prepared statement. "By marketing bundles of services, we offer the big
three -- voice, data and telephone services -- to our customers."
EchoStar Communications Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen told
analysts last week that the company is also looking at partnering with DSL providers to
offer high-speed Internet access to its customers.
While Ergen would not predict when he would announce a DSL
deal, he told analysts EchoStar does best with entrepreneurial companies, "where
their CEO is willing to meet with this CEO, because we move quickly."