BellSouth and Yahoo announced on Monday a strategic alliance to provide co-branded broadband service.
Starting in late 2006, the companies will offer the service, called FastAccess DSL, in BellSouth's nine-state region. New and existing customers will be offered FastAccess at no additional charge in all tiers of service.
Yahoo already has similar deals in the United States with SBC Communications and Verizon Communications. Adding BellSouth as a partner expands Yahoo's reach across most of the country. It does not have a contract with Qwest Communications International, the fourth and smallest of the Baby Bell phone companies. As in its other deals with telecommunications companies, Yahoo will receive a slice of the revenue for every new BellSouth DSL customer.
As competition with cable operators heats up, the Bell phone companies are trying to beef up their offerings to attract new customers. And a deal with Yahoo provides them with a more robust portal.
"BellSouth's alliance with Yahoo is a key part of our ongoing effort to enhance our customers' online experience," Keith Cowan, president of marketing and product management for BellSouth, said in a statement. "We are committed to offering a broadband service that exceeds customer expectations and are excited at the prospect of partnering with Yahoo to provide this new co-branded service."
Unlike the Bells, cable companies have resisted striking deals to package portals into their broadband services. For example, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have continually refurbished their home pages to serve as a starting point for their subscribers.
In addition to bolstering the portal experience for customers, the phone companies are also looking to expand their businesses in some nontraditional ways. SBC and Verizon have already committed to building new infrastructure to deliver TV service, so they can offer a "triple play" of services that includes voice, video and high-speed data services.
BellSouth hasn't announced any plans to deliver its own TV service, but it is testing Internet Protocol-TV software from Microsoft. Today, BellSouth resells video service from satellite provider DirecTV.