Fourth-quarter promotions, more self-installations and the demise of Excite@Home helped BellSouth celebrate success in its DSL business in 2001.
The company reported today during a conference call, to the congratulations of many industry and financial analysts, that it added 405,500 new subscribers in 2001, for a total of 620,500 DSL customers. Executives say they hope to keep up the momentum and nearly double that base by next year.
"We do have a target of 1.1 million DSL subscribers by the end of 2002," says Ralph de la Vega, former president of BellSouth Broadband and Internet Services and newly named president of BellSouths Latin American operations.
De la Vega credits a holiday-season promotion of a free modem plus one months free service for helping to boost the subscriber numbers. "The holiday season brought in additional DSL users, and that will happen again in 2002," he says.
Self-installation of service allows the telco to cut back on expensive truck rolls and manpower-intensive help-line calls. The company says improvements in self-install kits, which include a CD-ROM and an installation wizard that the customer uses, resulted in 96% of DSL residential customers performing the self-install successfully. This year the self-install option will be available to BellSouth business customers. Finally, disgruntled cable-modem users who were shut out of service because of provider Excite@Homes financial problems in the fourth quarter were shown the welcome mat by BellSouth.
"If you were left out to dry as a cable subscriber, we said We can give you service immediately," de la Vega says. Although no specific figures were provided by the company, BellSouth says the acquisition of ex-@Home users aided its fourth-quarter performance.
For this year, BellSouth says it plans to push its home-networking service, at $9.95 per month, in the first quarter. The company also intends to offer more content as well. It is in trials with videogame and music-on-demand services for residential customers, and will roll out instant messaging. Business customers will see offers of additional speeds and connections to BellSouths e-platform services, which include Web hosting, and voice and wireless enablement services, executives said.
Content that is optimized by more bandwidth, like films, videos and a Web portal, should encourage users to upgrade from dial-up to broadband, executives say
"As they get broadband, customers spend more time online," says de la Vega.