Today, Wal-Mart announced that it will start re-selling HughesNet satellite broadband Internet access, starting at 700Kbps for $59.99 a month, through 2,800 of its stores “including locations throughout most of rural America where terrestrial broadband services, such as cable and DSL, are often not available.” To help spur initial sign-ups, Wal-Mart will give new customers $100 RFID-enabled “ExpressPay” cards to use while shopping at the retailer.
BusinessWeek wonders whether this will trigger the standard Wal-Mart cost-cutting war that leads to lower prices for consumers, or whether Wal-Mart will try to be more competitive through offering superior customer service—an area it hasn’t excelled at lately. As an example, they cite Wal-Mart’s successful flat-panel TV push last Christmas, which was a disaster for Circuit City and CompUSA, but led to many returns from Wal-Mart customers who were left on their own when it came to installation.
“Broadband Across America: Through Wal-Mart, Hughes Brings High-Speed Internet to Rural Communities” [press release]
“Wal-Mart’s Latest Sale: Broadband” [Business Week]