Circuit City Stores Inc. is selling standards-certified
cable modems at 12 Atlanta-area stores, significantly expanding its high-speed
Internet-access sales relationship with MediaOne Group Inc.
Atlanta is the third market where Circuit City has begun
selling cable modems directly to subscribers to the MediaOne Road Runner cable Internet
service, and the second where MediaOne has begun migrating from proprietary equipment to
gear based on the industry's Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.
MediaOne is still selling Road Runner service and DOCSIS
modems from 3Com Corp. and Toshiba America Consumer Products directly to Atlanta
But the new retail presence is a model for the cable
industry's hoped-for future, in which outside retailers like Circuit City handle the
inventory and sales of standards-based modems that customers can install themselves, which
will work on any standardized cable network in any market.
About 315,000 homes in the Atlanta market have access to
MediaOne Road Runner service, with the full network having become
"DOCSIS-available" in mid-September, according to Atlanta region director of
product management John Kirk.
Circuit City began selling Thomson Consumer Electronics
standards-certified cable modems for $199 in Atlanta Oct. 7, along with separate $49
activation kits that include certificates for installation of the modems by MediaOne.
The store is offering $50 rebates on the modems, while
MediaOne is rebating the full $49 price of the activation kits. Monthly subscriptions for
unlimited service are $39.95 for MediaOne standard-cable customers.
Circuit City customers can view live or CD-ROM
demonstrations of Road Runner service at end-cap displays, including database searches to
see whether their addresses qualify for service.
"This is the kind of product where to show it is to
sell it," said Dave Stockton, MediaOne Road Runner's director for marketing and sales
in the Atlanta region.
Although one of the goals for DOCSIS is to reduce the need
for professional installation, MediaOne schedules truck rolls to install and activate
modems bought at Circuit City. But it will eventually emphasize customer
"We believe at least for the time being, we still need
to be doing installation and doing the RF connection for the customer," Stockton
Stockton would not disclose details of the retailer's
financial relationship with MediaOne, other than saying Circuit City is making a
commission on each customer activation, rather than getting an ongoing residual.
Kirk said all new subscribers after Oct. 1 were being sold
or leased DOCSIS modems.
Stockton added that MediaOne will eventually swap out its
proprietary Motorola Inc. modems in favor of DODCIS-certified product, probably beginning
sometime next year.
Circuit City, which declines to give interviews to
trade-news media, did not indicate whether it would expand its cable-modem lineup in
Atlanta, although MediaOne executives said they expected it to eventually do so.
Besides Atlanta, Circuit City has been selling DOCSIS
modems to Road Runner subscribers in Richmond, Va., as well as proprietary modems in
And MediaOne has a pilot with RadioShack in metropolitan
Jacksonville, Fla., for sales of Road Runner subscriptions only.