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DirecTV DSL Set For Circuit City Market Rollout

DirecTV Broadband will begin offering its DSL service nationwide this month through a partnership with No. 2 CE chain Circuit City.

The Hughes unit, a sister of DirecTV Inc., was created in April with the acquisition of Telocity, a regional ISP that designed and manufactured a proprietary, self-installable residential gateway. The gateway can enable such services as home networking, secure telecommuting, home monitoring and automation, voice bundling and entertainment offerings.

The high-speed Internet service will be offered in 435 of Circuit City’s 598 superstores by the end of October. Dedicated kiosks will allow shoppers to enter their phone numbers to determine if DirecTV DSL is available in their area. After ordering it through the store, DirecTV will establish service through the consumer’s local phone company and ship the gateway device to the customer. Circuit City will not carry or track any inventory.

In a statement, Circuit City president/CEO Alan McCollough said that “staying connected is important to our customers,” and that the alliance “strongly enhances the high-speed Internet access choices available in Circuit City stores.”

Ned Hayes, president/CEO of DirecTV Broadband, said his company is leveraging DirecTV’s “strong historical partnership” with Circuit City to build “loyal relationships with our subscribers.” He added that it will be “critical to have a strong national retail strategy and partnership in place” as the Hughes units work together to provide “a bundled whole-house entertainment and information solution.”

The national rollout of DirecTV DSL expands the broadband offerings of the parent company, which presently provides two-way satellite service through its Hughes Network System.

In a related matter, DirecTV recently terminated approximately 4,000 of its smaller dealers, including a number of CEDIA dealers for what a company spokesperson said was a failure to live up to minimum sales-quota requirements outlined in dealer contracts.

Said one CEDIA dealer who was dropped by the DBS provider: “We believe we’ve sold a reasonable number of DirecTV, HD DirecTV and DirecTV/ TiVo units for a small dealer. Our target client typically owns one of the finer homes in Southern California. We do not do $9 systems like Blockbuster Video sells.”

DirecTV said the decision to terminate was handled within the contractual agreements signed by dealers.