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HP expands service offerings with Sprint partnership

The long-distance telephone company joins a Hewlett-Packard program to let small businesses easily set up Internet operations.

Sprint has joined a Hewlett-Packard program to let small businesses easily set up Internet operations, the companies said.

Sprint is partnering with HP to extract more revenue by selling not only high-speed access to the Internet but also higher-level services. Numerous telecommunications companies, including Qwest and AT&T, have similar strategies to expand beyond the ultracompetitive business of selling networking bandwidth.

HP's program, dubbed Commerce for the Millennium, is part of the computing and imaging giant's "e-services" plan to seal partnerships with companies selling Internet services. Through the program, HP provides free servers and support as well as marketing help in exchange for a fraction of the revenue generated by sales on the sites.

Sprint's version of the program is called eCommerce BusinessBuilder. To use it, businesses require Internet access and an account to handle online credit card transactions.

The service costs $22 per month for a Web site and rises to $44 to $277 per month if companies also are selling items online. The more items are offered, the higher the cost, Sprint said.