Broadband An Equalizing Force for Small Biz Startups

Even though residential installations continue to dominate the broadband market, the business digital subscriber (DSL) market — fueled predominantly by the increased use of sophisticated Internet business solutions in smaller businesses — continues to attract the attention of broadband services providers.

SBC and Yahoo! have had a long-standing business relationship going back to the days of cross-marketing Prodigy dial-up services. Three years ago, the two companies penned a co-branding deal that put Yahoo!’s name on SBC’s residential dial-up and DSL services. It’s been a fruitful union — SBC currently provides DSL services to more than 2.8 million customers. Many of these customers are small businesses. As a result, SBC and Yahoo! have just added a variety of premium-based add-on services to their DSL offerings.

SBC and Yahoo! have enhanced their collective suite of Internet connectivity services designed for small business to include access to customized business portals, online marketing services and improved security options.

New Premium Services
The customized business portal feature allows small businesses to access pertinent business information — up front and center. Individual small business owners can determine what type of information is relevant to them and to their business and make the Web destination a landing site for employees. The technology behind the service is an extension of Yahoo’s consumer offering that allows for building similar individualized portlets.

Small businesses can also pick and choose from a variety of add-on services, such as GotMarketing’s Campaigner, a set of permission-based e-mail marketing tools designed to help create and distribute newsletters, product announcements, online catalogs and the like. Monthly fees for this premium service are based on the number of e-mails distributed each month. Prices ranges from $10 a month for 500 e-mails with the cost of additional messages set at $0.05 each, to $250 a month for developing and delivering 50,000 e-mails.

Other enhancements for small business users include 11 e-mail addresses, of which 10 e-mail addresses are sub-accounts so employees can have personalized e-mail address, unlimited nationwide dial-up Internet service for business travelers, and SuperWebCam functionality for hosting interactive meetings.

Broadband-Based Startups
C.J. Glynn and his partner, Raymond Paquin, operate a virtual marketing business in the San Francisco area. Glynn spent the last 15 years in sales and marketing for companies like Oracle, Sybase, Ariba and Arzoon. Glynn and Paquin founded Markatalyst because they enjoy being in the marketing industry and like the idea of being their own boss.

Being a Pacific Bell DSL user for about five years, Glynn knew that broadband access would be an equalizing force for the business startup. Before he ventured into the virtual marketing business earlier this year, Glynn had used his DSL access to work from home once a week. At the time, broadband access made it possible for him to keep working when a dial-up connection could not. Then, with the boom and subsequent bust of the dot-com phenomena, Glynn found himself counting on his DSL access for more than just telecommuting. When he signed up for SBC Yahoo! DSL service, he did so knowing that his new business was counting on the connectivity service.

“DSL technology enables us to do business from here in the valley with clients anywhere in the U.S. We use Internet connectivity extensively for our business,” Glynn said. “We use instant messaging all day long and we use a Web camera for some of our presentations. We use application sharing and share a white board over our DSL connection. Broadband allows us to do business anywhere.”

With the connections they have in the Silicon Valley, Glynn and Paquin knew they could be successful developing marketing campaigns for high-tech firms. With the DSL connection they have with SBC Yahoo!, Markatanalyst is well on its way to being a small business success story.

The Equalizer
New small business customers can take advantage of promotional pricing on SBC Yahoo! DSL access for as little as $29.95 a month with a one-year term commitment. Glynn has not taken advantage of the new premium offerings to date. After all, these are brand spanking new services. But he did say that things are starting to look up a bit in Silicon Valley, and that one of the keys to the turnaround is broadband access.

It’s too soon to say whether high-speed broadband access will be the great enabler of the next economic surge in the U.S. In the meanwhile, broadband access is turning out to be a great equalizer, allowing small- and micro-business startups to compete with larger businesses — without all the conventional costs associated with launching a new business venture.

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