TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: AT&T,BellSouth Debut Venture

AT&T,BellSouth Debut Venture

Reuters News Wire (
Thu, 1 Dec 2005 13:22:38 -0600

Telephone operators BellSouth Corp. and AT&T Inc. unveiled their
improved online directory, LLC, on Thursday, going
head-to-head against Internet heavyweights Google Inc. and Yahoo

BellSouth and SBC Communications Inc., now part of AT&T, joined
together last year to buy and combine their own
telephone directory services for an online service.

Phone companies have long been the key providers of local business
information directories that are traditionally printed on yellow

"This is a significant milestone for us -- and the industry -- as we
remain dedicated to providing the most logical source for advertisers
and consumers who are increasingly searching the Internet for local
information, said Charles Stubbs, president and CEO of, in a statement.

But the once sleepy market is emerging as a key battleground as major
Internet firms see local search as a way to move beyond traditional
Web search by helping people find details of businesses such as nearby
restaurants and shops.

One analyst said he believed that may have an edge
over Web rivals in local search because they already have up-to-date
databases with local information and a long-standing presence in local

"I think you're going to see a neck-and-neck battle between and the search engines, but the search engines are
going to be trying to catch up," said David Goddard, an analyst at
publishing research firm Simba Information.

"Google and Yahoo are not anywhere near having the kind of database
that a yellow pages publisher already has," he added, also noting that is an easy Web address for consumers to remember. said the revamped site has new, more powerful search
capabilities. For example, consumers can search by key word, business
name or business type and refine their results by expanding or
narrowing their searches.

For now, expects to compete with Yahoo and Google. But
Goddard said it makes sense for the two camps to work together

"One way or another, what you have here is one company that has the
traffic, the other that has the database. Different agreements are
going to happen over the years," he said.

SBC Communications is also expected to replace the "SBC" trading
symbol with AT&T's "T" symbol as the stock market opens on Thursday.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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