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Regional Bell goes local

Another player decides to enter the local-content business. This time, it's US West, which will give metropolitan-area residents a rundown on news, weather, sports, and entertainment.

US West (USW) today dove into the online local news business with Dive In, which will give metropolitan-area residents a rundown on news, weather, sports, and entertainment.

The company said the service will debut in ten metro areas by year's end. It wouldn't provide any specifics, but the cities will be large markets in US West's phone and cable territory such as Denver and Atlanta, sources said.

This field is getting crowded, not to mention saturated. Last week Microsoft said it would offer a similar service called Cityscape in Seattle early next year, and launch others in New York, Boston, and San Francisco by mid-1977.

Yahoo, among other Internet companies, also offers online city guides. Other phone companies are getting into the act as well. Pacific Bell, for example, offers a service tailored toward its California territory called At Hand.

All the players are eager to generate revenues from advertising on their Web sites. Most of that advertising now goes to daily and weekly newspapers in the local markets. US West believes it will benefit from its advertising relationship built with local businesses through its Yellow Pages.

The company concedes that it does not have the leverage of a strong online distribution channel, as with phones. But it expects to negotiate deals with Continental Cablevision, which US West is in the process of acquiring, among others. Continental is rolling out plans to offer high-speed Net access via cable systems.

The company will rely on content from the US West Yellow Pages, Quote.com, golf.com, MovieLink, and The Weather Channel, among others.