The future is bundles, even for DSL

I signed up for PeoplePC's service at home because I could get a 566-MHz IBM PC and unlimited Internet access and on-site service for $32 per month. But I was surprised when the company sent me an IBM Aptiva.

I didn't know if I was getting an Aptiva or a Festiva. I just knew the box was from a big name maker, that it met my performance requirements, and most importantly, was part of a bundle that included 'Net access and support.

Bundling will be key to the success of many things. Consider DSL. When you're outfitting teleworkers, which would you rather do: buy everything a la carte or get it in a bundle?

Sprint is one carrier putting together compelling DSL service suites.

In 10 test markets across the country the company is offering a $149-per-month DSL service that includes four voice lines, a data line with an 1.5M bit/sec uplink and an 8M bit/sec downlink, 6M bytes of Web space, five e-mail addresses, 750 minutes of long-distance minutes, unlimited local calling, caller ID, call waiting, voice mail and three-way calling.

That looks to be about $200 worth of service, so roughly $50 off. But more importantly, it wraps up most everything you would need in one nice package that you can hold one company accountable for.

Sprint officials say they have another scaled-down bundle in the works that will include two phone lines and less of everything else, but they wouldn't share specifics.

These particular services are aimed at consumers, but it foretells of where things are going. Expect carriers interested in your company's telework business to pitch all types of packaged offerings, some of which will include customer premises equipment, 24-7 management and on-site support.

Sprint says it will have 2.3 million DSL-capable lines installed by year-end and twice that number by the end of 2001. It figures it can extend consumer broadband services to 40% of U.S. households next year.

Sprint's Greg Crosby, assistant vice president of Broadband Wireline Product Management, says it won't be long before carriers are either charging $10 per month for consumer DSL or simply giving it away free and making up the difference on "application" fees - video mail, pay per view, video library, etc.

Whether consumer or business, expect all the carriers to be hawking bundles.

This story, "The future is bundles, even for DSL" was originally published by Network World.

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