Snap, the Internet portal co-owned by NBC and CNET Inc.,
has forged an agreement with three telephone companies and several small cable-television
operators to design a Web site specifically for high-speed Internet services.
The new service, called Cyclone, will be available later
this quarter, and it will feature rich-media content including news, sports,
entertainment, television and music.
Initially, the new Snap site will be carried by telcos such
as GTE Corp., Bell Atlantic Corp. and SBC Communications Inc., which provide high-speed
Internet access via asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line technology. Small cable operators
participating include EastLink Cable and Triax Telecommunications Co. L.L.C.
EastLink will make the Cyclone site available on its
"Andara" cable-modem service for customers in Canada.
Triax -- which launched its own cable-modem service, called
"Tri-Speed," in Illinois and Minnesota -- will use Cyclone as the default home
page for its high-speed-data customers. Triax operates nearly 300 cable systems in Iowa,
Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona and Minnesota.
Bell Atlantic, which is in the process of acquiring GTE,
already has a relationship with Snap: The telco made Snap the default Internet portal for
its "InfoSpeed" ADSL service late last year.
Bell Atlantic offers InfoSpeed in Washington, D.C.;
Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; and northern New Jersey, and the company plans to make the
service available in New York and Boston during the first quarter of this year.
The Snap deal helps to provide what several ADSL companies
have been craving for quite a while -- exclusive content. Although high-speed Web-users
who don't use telco Internet-service providers will still have access to Cyclone,
each of the telcos will get customized versions of the site to stand out from the
Joan Rasmussen, a spokeswoman for Bell Atlantic Internet
Solutions, the telco's ISP, said that although the company already has a relationship
with Snap, this deal enhances the offering. And she hinted that similar deals with ISPs
and content providers are in the works.
"This is more of an extension of that offering,"
Rasmussen said. "You will see any number of alliances in connection with ADSL as we
roll it out."
The biggest of those ISP deals -- with America Online Inc.
-- was announced last week.
AOL will offer Bell Atlantic's "Personal
InfoSpeed" service to AOL members in the telco's service territory beginning
Rasmussen added that the Snap deal will have no effect on
the AOL agreement.
SBC, which operates in seven states in the Southwest, has
big plans for its ADSL service. Currently available in selected markets in California, SBC
wants to roll out ADSL to 8.2 million residential and 1.2 million business customers by
the end of the year.
The new service will focus heavily on information that
requires high bandwidth, including video, audio, animation and gaming. Companies that have
signed up to provide customized content for the site include Bloomberg L.P., Sony Online
Entertainment and Rolling Stone Network.
NBC and CNBC will also integrate Cyclone into all of their
analog and enhanced-television broadcasts.