Yahoo, SBC lure users to switch ISPs –

Yahoo Inc. and SBC Communications Inc. are laying out the welcome mat for rivals' customers, saying that they will soon offer automated tools making it easier for users to switch to the companies' co-branded Internet access service.

The tools will be rolled out in the next several months, the companies said Tuesday, allowing users to swiftly import personal preferences.

The announcement comes just one month after the companies unveiled their SBC Yahoo DSL service, to accompany their existing dial-up offering. The companies hope that the new switching tools will give them a better shot at the 26 million customers eligible for DSL (digital subscriber line) in SBC's 13-state service region.

While both SBC Yahoo Dial and DSL services allow users to currently import some personal preferences, the companies said that the new tools will make the transition easier.

The move comes as Sunnyvale, California, Yahoo has become more aggressive with its fee-based services. The Internet titan has moved to bolster its premium services over the last year as the online advertising market has continued to flounder. The strategy appears to be paying off, as Yahoo reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings last week, sending the companies stock price soaring.

Teamed with San Antonio, Texas, SBC, Yahoo hopes to gobble up a good portion of the burgeoning DSL market by offering expanded content and, for the time being, reduced prices. New customers of SBC Yahoo are being offered service for as low as US$29.95 as part of a six-month introductory offer. Prices then jump to between $42.95 a month to $59.95 a month, depending on the access speed.

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