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Verizon Casts a Faster Net

The big phone company boosts its DSL and VoIP offerings as its core local phone business stagnates.


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is racing ahead with faster Internet service.

The nation's leading telco said Tuesday it would roll out a speedier digital subscriber line, or DSL, Internet access offering this quarter. The company also will start selling voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, service this summer.

Tuesday's announcement comes as local phone titans like Verizon and



seek to bolster their fortunes by embracing the Internet. The companies already compete with cable giants such as

Time Warner


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in the ISP business. Now big telcos also are pushing into VoIP, just as fans of the technology predict consumers will soon clamor for the new service.

On Tuesday, the New York company said its Verizon Online unit would add a new tier of consumer DSL service with a maximum connection speed of 3Mbps/768Kbps for qualified customers. That's twice as fast as the company's standard DSL service, which costs $30 to $35 a month. The company didn't name prices for its new offerings.

Verizon also said it will triple to 384Kbps the upstream speed of its basic DSL offering for qualifying customers while keeping prices steady.

The phone and cable companies find themselves tangling on the Net as their core local-phone and basic-cable businesses show little if any growth. The Baby Bells have made market-share inroads on the cable companies, but they continue to fight the perception that their digital subscriber line, or DSL, service is less technologically robust than the cable modem.

Last week, Verizon said its DSL business added 345,000 new high-speed Internet customers in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Verizons and SBCs continue to place a high priority on so-called bundling, in which they sell packages of services to consumers. The companies say selling local phone service along with DSL or wireless service has helped slow the loss of residential access lines that has hampered their core operations.

"Fifty-one percent of Verizon's residential customers have purchased local calling in combination with either Verizon long-distance or Verizon DSL, or both," the company said. "Our ability to offer customers a compelling array of local, long-distance, wireless, broadband and video services is unmatched by our cable competitors. Expanding our DSL service will allow us to offer even more innovative packages that include services like voice over IP."

Verizon slipped a penny Tuesday to $37.68.