Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

AT&T Strives to Gain Internet Business

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

AT&T Strives to Gain Internet Business

Article excerpt

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- AT&T, the largest U.S. long-distance phone company, sees online partnerships combined with new technology as the key to taking first place in the Internet industry.

It plans to introduce Web-based electronic mail in the next few months for subscribers of its WorldNet service, allowing them to tap into their e-mail accounts from any Internet browser, said WorldNet President Dan Schulman.

AT&T teamed up with four of the most popular Internet search directories -- Yahoo!, Excite, Lycos and Infoseek -- in May in an effort to get more consumers to buy its phone and new multimedia services as well as subscribe to its WorldNet Internet service. AT&T plans to put all of its marketing muscle behind WorldNet and multimedia services as it seeks to become No. 1 among online services dominated by America Online and Microsoft, he said.

"We're the clear No. 3," Schulman told the Bloomberg Forum. "It's insufficient for where we want to be."

AT&T is focusing on the booming Internet market to boost sales and earnings. Working with Lycos and others cuts AT&T's costs because customers can go through the Internet to ask questions or verify a phone call -- rather than calling a customer-service representative, Schulman said.

The alliances with the four Internet directories should increase AT&T's WorldNet subscribers, helping it to double its roughly 1.2 million subscribers in a year, he said. AOL has about 12 million subscribers; Microsoft Network has 2.4 million.

The Basking Ridge-based phone company just introduced a co-branded online service with Excite that combines AT&T's WorldNet service with Excite's news and content. …

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