Hughes Unveils DirecTV DSL Brand

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Two months after its purchase by DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp., Cupertino, Calif.-based digital-subscriber line provider Telocity Inc. has officially announced its new service name — DirecTV DSL.

The company had already promoted the new brand on a limited basis, using direct mail and a link from the DirecTV Web site. Telocity also said last week that it changed its company name to DirecTV Broadband Inc.

Ned Hayes, president and CEO of DirecTV Broadband Inc., said there was never any question that the DSL company would leverage the consumer recognition and loyalty of the DirecTV brand.

Telocity and DirecTV research found consumers to be willing to connect the DirecTV name to a high-speed Internet service. The company decided to use "DSL" in the brand, Hayes added, because many consumers — especially those in Middle America —were confused by the terms "broadband" and "fast connect."

DirecTV DSL is just the first of many DirecTV-tagged names the company will introduce as it rolls out new services that take advantage of the broadband pipe, such as home networking.

"As we add the DirecTV name to other services, they will be equally descriptive," Hayes noted.

The company plans to first introduce the new DirecTV DSL brand to its high-speed Internet customers and DirecTV video subscribers through electronic-mail and direct-mail campaigns. DirecTV DSL will also air radio ads in key markets over the next few weeks, and the company is working with its DBS video sibling on an infomercial for satellite-TV customers.

The company hopes to stage a retail trial of DirecTV DSL next month. Though the retailer who'll conduct the test has not been signed, Hayes said it's likely to be an existing DirecTV retailer, such as Best Buy Inc., RadioShack Corp. or Circuit City Stores Inc.

"We want to make sure our first foot into the retail space is a sure-footed one," Hayes said.

DirecTV Inc. and DirecTV Broadband are still looking at how the two companies will bundle their products and offer consumer discounts at retail, Hayes said. Such bundles would help DirecTV compete more effectively with cable operators who continues to roll out cable-modem services, he said.

For convenience sake, existing customers will keep the "telocity.com" tags on their e-mail addresses, After the next few weeks, new customers' addresses will sport the DirecTVInternet.com domain name.

DirecTV DSL will serve as the Internet-service provider for its high-speed customers. The company is exploring ways to work with DirecTV to create exclusive content for its portal, such as streamed video.

DirecTV will try to attract customers away from dial-up ISPs, cable-modem services and even other DSL providers, Hayes said.

DirecTV Broadband is still working with DirecTV Inc. to develop a TV ad campaign for the DSL service. It's possible such an effort would use the "Feel the Joy" slogan that has been used to successfully promote DirecTV's professional satellite system installation.

Hayes said he's confident the DirecTV Broadband division would survive a Hughes takeover, no matter who buys the company. If News Corp. ends up with the satellite company, he predicted, the broadband synergies could even be extended internationally.

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