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SBC Communications Inc. is merging home entertainment and digital content through the television set-top box.

The San Antonio, Texas-based telecommunications provider on Monday announced a joint venture with equipment maker 2Wire Inc. to deliver a new home entertainment service and set-top box by the middle of the year. It will be available to customers using both its SBC | Dish Network satellite TV service and its SBC Yahoo DSL service.

The new service will center on a set-top box that integrates satellite television, digital video recording, video on demand and Web content such as Yahoo’s photo-sharing and LaunchCast music services, SBC announced.

SBC’s news comes just days before the opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where the telecom provider is expected to offer more details about its expanded relationship with Yahoo and about its separate plans to launch an IP-based TV service called Project Lightspeed over its fiber network.

Last year, SBC extended its DSL branding partnership with Yahoo and said the companies planned in 2005 to expand the SBC Yahoo Web user interface beyond the desktop and onto televisions and mobile phones.

The home-entertainment venture is the first such expansion. As part of the service, users can access and share online Yahoo Photos and listen to Yahoo’s LaunchCast Internet radio through home stereos and entertainment systems, according to SBC.

The set-top box also will provide storage for digital photos and music, and users will be able to access photos and music and to program digital video recording remotely through the SBC Yahoo interface on the Web.

Future plans include providing extended remote access to mobile phones through Cingular Wireless and letting users of SBC’s local phone service view caller ID and call-log information on their TV screens.

SBC did not release pricing information for the new service.

Ed Cholerton, vice president of SBC DSL, was appointed as CEO for the joint venture, which is called SBC Media Solutions LLC. Brian Hinman, president and CEO of 2Wire, will serve as president of SBC Media Solutions.

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