By signing a marketing agreement with BellSouth last fall, Pulte Homes now has contracts in place that let the builder offer bundled communications packages to its home buyers across the nation. Pulte builds in 28 states and more than 50 metropolitan markets.

Russ Wyatt, Pulte's vice president for homeowner services, who negotiates the company's marketing agreements, says the builder has been working to secure contracts with the major service providers since 2001. Pulte has signed marketing agreements with Qwest, SBC, Sprint, and Verizon. “These marketing agreements give Pulte coast-to-coast coverage with brand-name service providers,” says Wyatt.

According to the deal with BellSouth, the service provider pays an undisclosed per-house fee in exchange for Pulte exclusively marketing BellSouth's bundle of services to potential home buyers in its service area.

“This agreement doesn't limit the home buyer's choice in communications services,” says Wyatt. “Cable companies will continue to serve Pulte projects, but we're choosing to promote BellSouth's services,” he explains.

BellSouth will appoint an implementation manager for every major market Pulte builds in within the telecom's nine-state region. The person will be a single point of contact for Pulte's land development staff, essentially an entrée into the BellSouth organization.

Pulte builds more than 8,000 homes a year in BellSouth's region, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Under the terms of the deal, the basic plan includes BellSouth's local and long-distance telephone service, high-speed DSL Internet access, DirecTV, and a Cingular wireless plan. The monthly price for the intro bundle is $159.92 (for a cost breakdown, see “Bell-South's Bundle,” page 88).

BellSouth has followed most of the other telecoms and organized itself to service the master planned community and multi-dwelling unit markets. For starters, the company recently appointed Phil Jacobs president of its newly created BellSouth Community Technologies Division.

“With about 70 percent of housing starts falling into apartments, condos, [and] master planned communities, we decided we needed to have a product set and support mechanism for developers and builders,” says Jacobs. “Now, builders like Pulte will be able to offer their home buyers a one-stop shop for all their communications needs.”

Other home builders, such as Lennar Corp. and KB Home, are also in discussions with the major communications service providers to negotiate similar marketing agreements. KB Home, for example, says it has had relationships with most of the telecoms since 2002 but would not discuss any of the agreements. Lennar has also been working behind the scenes to solidify deals but at press time would only say it was in discussions with all the major service providers. By the end of 2005, only Pulte publicly acknowledged that it had coast-to-coast marketing agreements in place.

Looking to the future, BellSouth is promoting its fiber-to-the-curb technology. With fiber to the curb, BellSouth runs fiber to cabinets in the local neighborhood roughly 500 feet from each home. Each box typically serves six to eight homes. By the end of the decade, BellSouth's fiber network will deliver bandwidth upward of 80 to 100 megabits per second.
Today, the most the company offers with DSL is 6 megabits per second.

BELLSOUTH'S BUNDLE Here's an intro bundle from BellSouth that Pulte will be marketing to its home buyers.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Memphis, TN.