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Office Depot: Paper, pens...broadband

The office supplies company is now selling high-speed Net services through in-store kiosks--something many of its rivals already offer.

Office Depot said Thursday that it's now selling high-speed Internet services through its in-store kiosks in all its 820 stores in the United States.

The office supplies company said customers can select and sign up for broadband services from a number of Internet service providers (ISPs), including EarthLink, Comcast and America Online. The availability of services varies by location.

Office Depot is a straggler to in-store broadband sales. Rivals Circuit City, OfficeMax and Staples have each been selling high-speed Internet services through in-stores kiosks for more than a year.

An Office Depot representative said the company began testing the broadband sales system last year.

But Office Depot has a leg up on some other retailers with its user interface and sales-tracking system for selling broadband, according to its technology partner, DigiTerra Broadband. When customers enter their address into the Office Depot kiosks, they are presented with a list of Internet service providers that offer services in their area. At some other retailers, customers have to check each ISP for availability, one by one.

Office Depot can track broadband service orders through its kiosks, so that the retailer doesn't have to rely on ISPs for that information, according to representative from DigiTerra, a division of information technology services firm Ciber. That's important because retailers are compensated by ISPs for orders booked through their stores.

DigiTerra furnishes Office Depot with the Web-based software that allows consumers to check availability and purchase Internet services.