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SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!'

SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) announced a joint venture on Monday with 2Wire Inc. as it launched a home entertainment service to DSL and satellite customers.

The joint venture is called SBC Media Solutions LLC, and its new CEO will be Ed Cholerton, the VP of DSL for SBC. Brian Hinman, 2Wire's president and CEO, will assume the role of president of the new venture, which exists to develop and market the MediaPortal set-top box.

The new SBC Home Entertainment Service (HES), expected to be rolled out in SBC’s territories by mid-year, will integrate satellite TV programming, video on demand (VOD), music on demand, digital video recording (DVR), caller ID, and digital photo sharing through 2Wire’s MediaPortal set-top box. The MediaPortal box is a satellite and digital TV receiver, a digital video recorder, and a PC-type device that allows Web surfing, emailing, and CD/DVD burning.

A future enhancement to the MediaPortal box will include remote access through Cingular Wireless phones. That feature allows a consumer to listen to music and view photos stored on his MediaPortal devices (or his home network) from a cell phone (or any Web-connected device).

SBC, which already offers satellite TV service through a partnership with EchoStar Communications Corp., sees the new service and joint venture as a way to improve the customer experience by tying together the TV and the PC through the DSL connection. “We’re always looking at ways to make our service even better,” says SBC spokesman Michael Coe.

Coe says that a content partner for the VOD service has not been announced yet.

"For this type of integrated [entertainment] service, there’s lots of moving parts and everything needs to work together -- Echostar, Yahoo, DSL -- and that’s not our core competency, and we wanted to make sure the end user experience is good,” Coe says. The new home entertainment service is the first step in SBC’s plans to offer users access to IPTV services over an advanced fiber network (see SBC Sheds Light on 'Lightspeed').

The ultimate goal for SBC -- and its cable competitors -- is to get as much of each customer's entertainment and communications budget that it can. That's what's causing the carrier to partner with consumer electronics vendors, online content providers, and other companies that push it further out of the world of being just a phone company. It also has led them to tease future features such as SBC Unified Communications, a service that combines all of a customer's wireline and wireless voice mail, email, and faxes into one mailbox.

Coe says pricing for the complete entertainment package, including SBC Yahoo DSL, SBC|DISH satellite TV service, SBC phone service and the 2Wire set-top with DVR has not been determined, but “just like all our services, the more you buy, the more you save.”

— Chris Somerville, Senior Editor, Next-Generation Services

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jim_smith 12/5/2012 | 3:31:11 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' SBC seems to be desperately playing catchup to the cable cos. Which means SBC has accepted defeat.

Finally an end - a bloody end, to be precise - is in sight for these RBOC dinosaurs.
gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 3:31:11 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' How many hints does SBC has to give out for it to be obvious to the news media that they have made a trust with Echostar about the satellite offering of broadband on their turf.

Lets me connect the dots for the discering media folks:

1) SBC sells satellite dishes that can compete in their broadband service
2) satellite broadband is terribly expensive in areas that SBC covers dispite the sheer volume of users who have sattelite dishes
3) satellite does not even advertise broadband in areas that SBC offers broadband
4) satellite used to advertise broadband in areas that SBC offers broadband before SBC started selling Dishnetwork's satellite TV.

Can someone confirm that Echostar and SBC are still separate companies? I have been out of the country for a while.
stawdema 12/5/2012 | 3:31:11 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' Just reading these announcements is entertainment enough :)

Why would I just not head off to my cable company and get all these from them. I can just imagine my plight when dealing with services coming jointly from SBC, Yahoo, Echostar, Cingular, 2 Wire and God knows who else...


keelhaul42 12/5/2012 | 3:31:11 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' I'm not sure of your reasoning about accepting defeat - or maybe you're referring to the RBOC's stubbornly clinging to their TDM/voice services?

Irrespective I agree the RBOC's may indeed be meeting their corporate Waterloo -- and it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.
If you can imagine a corporate graveyard it has to be littered with companies that had very good ideas/products for transitioning to the future of broadband services but died waiting for the RBOC's to do something in that direction.

-kh
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