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Staples offering high-speed online access

Staples is offering high-speed Internet access to its customers, joining a list of brick-and-mortar retailers that have recently entered the market.

Staples started offering high-speed Internet access to its customers today, joining a list of brick-and-mortar retailers that have recently entered the market.

The office supply giant is targeting small and midsize businesses by offering digital subscriber line (DSL) access, a representative said. The offer appears in Staples.com's Business Solutions Center.

Other brick-and-mortar firms offer dial-up Internet access, but not the faster DSL or cable connections. Kmart and Circuit City have launched their own Internet access offerings in recent months.

Along with being shopping destinations, traditional retailers want to become their customers' Internet access providers. As an entry point to the Web, companies gain marketing opportunities and a means to guide customers to certain online and offline shopping locations.

"Internet access creates opportunities to apply glue between the Web and a store's brick-and-mortar operations," said Jupiter Communications analyst Ken Cassar.

Staples is one of the first merchants to offer high-speed service. But as previously reported by CNET News.com, Silicon Valley-based Fry's Electronics is preparing to offer DSL access in coming months.

Staples said it plans to install kiosks in stores where the DSL provider, DSL.net, is available. The kiosks will link to DSL.net and demonstrate the company's services. Customers will pay Staples.com for the service, and Staples takes a commission.

Last August, Staples took a 5 percent equity stake in DSL.net, a data communications and Internet access provider.