AT&T to offer DSL in more areas

The company adds four new metro areas where DSL will be available to customers subscribing to its local-plus-long-distance phone package--an effort to head off cable threats.

Jim Hu Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jim Hu
covers home broadband services and the Net's portal giants.
Jim Hu
2 min read
AT&T has added four new metropolitan areas in which it will offer DSL service to customers subscribing to its local-plus-long-distance phone package.

The telecommunications giant on Thursday said it would offer digital subscriber line (DSL) service to customers in Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. The expansion builds on an announcement in July, when AT&T began offering DSL to customers in New York.

In each of these areas, pricing for the DSL service will be $19.95 for the first three months, and then $39.95 every month after. AT&T will offer a plan with faster download speeds for $49.95 a month as well. The charges are in addition to the normal cost of the phone service. All services will be offered through a partnership to resell DSL lines offered by Covad Communications.

AT&T's expanding DSL plans highlight a trend among telecommunications providers to bundle various services into one offering. Baby Bells such as SBC Communications, Verizon Communications, Qwest Communications and BellSouth have been pushing DSL to customers in hopes of diversifying their offerings beyond their core phone packages.

Phone companies face competition from cable networks, such as Comcast and AOL Time Warner's Time Warner Cable, which are bundling video programming with broadband and local phone calling. This "triple threat" has forced the Bells to search for their own video strategy to prevent cable from stealing their coveted voice subscribers. In recent months, the Bells have turned to satellite services such as Hughes Electronics' DirecTV and EchoStar's Dish Network as a way to offer video to their subscribers.

Traditionally a long-distance provider, AT&T is trying to get more customers to add its local service. The company currently has 3.1 million local phone customers in 13 states. It hopes to expand its local-plus-long-distance package to 35 states by year's end, using the DSL offering as a perk.