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Sprint, CompUSA to ink marketing deal

The long distance provider will announce a new marketing campaign tomorrow aimed at promoting its voice and Internet services to CompUSA's customers.

Sprint and CompUSA will announce a new marketing campaign tomorrow aimed at promoting the long distance company's voice and Internet services to the computer store's customers.

As part of a one-year arrangement, the store will advertise Sprint's long distance services, the EarthLink Sprint Internet service, and the telephone company's suite of products targeted at home offices.

The two companies say they have yet to work out the details of the in-store promotions. But as a start, customers that sign up for Sprint's long distance service will receive a $15 coupon from CompUSA. If customers also sign up for the company's Internet service, they will receive a $1 per month discount on their bill.

Customers who sign up for the company's Sense Home Office plan, which includes long distance service, a toll-free 800 number, and a Sprint calling card, will receive a $25 CompUSA coupon and $2 off their monthly EarthLink bill.

The agreement strengthens what are already close ties between CompUSA and EarthLink, in which Sprint holds a substantial minority ownership interest. Last month, the computer retailer selected the Pasadena-based ISP to be the default service provider for its in-store promotions and for all Internet-related training classes.

But it also marks further steps in Sprint's efforts to combine its traditional voice service offerings with its Internet and data products.

"This is really designed to cross-promote all of the products," said Sprint spokesman Jeff Shafer. "It's part of an overall strategy of marketing multiple services together."

This isn't Sprint's first venture into the retail sphere. The company already maintains branded mini-stores inside most Radio Shack outlets, where Sprint products and services are sold. That venture has been a very successful way of reaching consumers, Shafer said.

But the CompUSA deal allows the long distance carrier to reach a valuable demographic, populated by high-end computer consumers and home office workers, he added.

"This is the type of place that people who have their own home office tend to frequent to meet their needs," Shafer said. "As the computer and the communications industry come together, this kind of cross-promotion makes sense."

Sprint's ION, or Integrated On-Demand Network service, which is also being marketed to home businesses, is not part of the CompUSA offer. That service, which is still in the final stages of testing, is slated to offer an always-on mix of voice, data, video, and Intranet services over DSL or other high-bandwidth connections.

The two companies did not release financial details behind the marketing arrangement.