Prodigy Communications, one of the worlds first Internet services, has remarkable brand recognition and a footprint that makes it accessible to more than 90 percent of the country. Yet, in revenue and customer counts, its dwarfed by America Online and The Microsoft Network.
"For different reasons at different times, weve had our ups and downs," says Greg Williams, chief operating officer. "Frankly, Prodigy lost its way for a little bit."
But Prodigy is back on track. The company has entered strategic partnerships with Covad Communications and SBC Communications to boost its DSL resale business. With SBC and its deep pockets, particularly, "we feel like we got hooked onto a big kite," Williams says. "As it goes up, we think well do real fine."
Already, Prodigy, led by CEO Paul R. Roth, considers itself the nations leading retailer of DSL, reporting 600,000 customers at years end.
A 9-year deal makes Prodigy SBCs exclusive provider of Internet and portal services. SBC is pumping $6 billion into its DSL infrastructure, planning to make the service available to 77 million consumers, creating a ready-made market for Prodigy.
In January, the companies fine-tuned the agreement to allow Prodigy to acquire new customers through SBC less expensively, Williams says. The revision also allows Prodigy to handle multiple-Internet-protocol-address business, instead of only single-IP-address customers.
In coming months, Prodigy expects to introduce new ways for Internet users to customize their service, and also to better leverage its brand recognition, estimated at more than 85 percent.
"Prodigy is going to be a very strong competitor, and very focused on delivering services for customers that are customized for their needs," Williams says.