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AT&T to Show Off at Olympics

AT&T Broadband — the "official broadband provider" to the 2002 Winter Olympics — will have a major presence around Salt Lake City when the games begin next month.

As part of its first-time ties to the Olympics, the MSO is building "the AT&T Broadband Lounge" in Salt Lake City, where it will showcase digital cable, digital telephone service and high-speed Internet access, according to AT&T Broadband director of partnership marketing Karin Rutstein.

The MSO — whose parent, AT&T Corp., is a longtime Olympics sponsor — decided to highlight these services after learning that many Olympics ticket purchasers reside in Utah and other regions it serves, most notably in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and Northern California.

Rutstein, who noted that the MSO can partner only with other Olympics sponsors, said she has been hard at work trying to line up marketing deals. She could not identify any partnerships, as most have yet to be finalized, but she did say they'd be technology-related.

The partners' eventual exposure will be throughout the MSO — "a national presence, as opposed to just Salt Lake," she said.

AT&T Broadband has started to televise the first in its series of cross-channel promotional spots, which feature Paralympic skier Chris Waddell and promote the Paralympic Games. Additional co-branded Olympics spots are due, with no schedule determined at press time.

There also will be company-wide AT&T marketing links, including a "tune in and win" contest that will be promoted across various Web sites and other AT&T business units.

On the technology side, Salt Lake City system senior vice president Gary Boles said that his system will transmit video from a number of Olympics venues, using 25 miles of coaxial and fiber-optic cable and 7,800 television monitors, all at considerable cost.

AT&T spokeswoman Tracy Baumgartner declined to confirm a published estimate that "millions" were being spent to assemble that network. Although she acknowledged that the combined sponsorship, technical and network costs would surpass $2 million, she said, "I can't separate the cost of the sponsorship from the cost of the network."

The TV monitors will be located in Salt Lake, Ogden, Park City, Provo and other nearby towns where various Winter Olympics competitions will occur, Boles said. They'll also be in 14 non-competition sites, most notably the Olympic Village.

The MSO and system will have many staffers on hand, mostly to monitor the network around the clock, but also to assist foreign visitors, said Boles.

One of the MSO's multilingual or bilingual volunteers, marketing manager Randall Decker, will assist the Japanese delegation. Another, fulfillment administrative assistant Jennifer Kirk, will aid the Czechoslovakian Paralympic team.