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    Rogers Cable, Yahoo unveil high-speed Internet portal  
    Digital bundle entry  

Kevin Restivo

    Financial Post  

Rogers Cable Inc., Canada's largest cable operator, kept pace in an increasingly competitive high-speed Internet access war yesterday when it launched a long-awaited and low-priced Web portal in conjunction with Yahoo! Inc.

The launch of the site, which features a combination of content and services such as music streaming, Internet security, parental controls, anti-spam software and additional storage for e-mails, comes one month after Bell Canada and Microsoft Corp. introduced a similar alliance.

" Bell is moving forward so they needed to keep up," said Brian Sharwood, an analyst with the Seaboard Group consultancy. "They needed to have a product that worked and they needed to get it out quickly."

Unlike the sympatico.msn site, the Rogers-Yahoo offering is available at no extra charge to Rogers 830,000 high-speed Internet customers though it won't be available in Newfoundlanders until the fall.

Bell, by contrast, is selling Sympatico and MSN Premium for $44.95 a month for consumers that sign a 12-month contract or buy a digital bundle. Other Bell high-speed customers have to pay $4.95 a month for MSN Premium, while dial-up and high-speed "lite" customers have to pay $9.95 a month. Rogers charges $44.95 for its High-Speed Extreme Internet service while its high-speed "lite" service sells for $29.95 a month.

The portals give telecommunications firms and cable companies another weapon in their bid to offer consumers a "triple play" of digital television, high-speed Internet and telephony services and helps service providers differentiate high-speed Internet access packages.

Rogers and Yahoo first announced the co-branded service in January. Yahoo has similar deals with SBC Communications in the U.S. and British Telecom in the U.K.

Mr. Sharwood says Rogers needs to launch enhanced services, such as a home networking package to connect computers, to generate revenue from the site.

Michael Lee, vice-president, strategy and development with Rogers, says he expects all Rogers high-speed customers will eventually register and use the portal. Industry observers expect portals will be used by companies as a marketing tool to lure customers to high-speed services, which are more profitable.

Though Rogers expects to co-operate further with Yahoo in the future, Mr. Lee said it's unlikely Yahoo will take an equity stake in the cable company.



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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

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