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Copyright 2005 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

June 14, 2005 Tuesday

ALL EDITIONS

From Bloomberg News/Lexis Nexis

Verizon Communications Inc., the largest U.S. telephone company, cut the introductory price of high-speed Internet access by 33 percent, following SBC Communications Inc. in using lower prices to lure customers.

Customers who place an online order for a year of digital subscriber line, or DSL, access, or request it as part of a package of services, will pay about $20 a month for the first three months, Manhattan-based Verizon said in a statement.

Verizon made the promotion available to customers who called customer service after SBC, the second-largest U.S. local phone company, reduced Internet-access prices on June 1, said Verizon spokeswoman Sharon Beadle. Both companies' cuts are aimed at stepping up pressure on cable providers such as Comcast Corp., which are gaining telephone customers with bundles of products that include Internet, television and phone service.

"We're just trying to increase our customer base and think that this is a good way to do so," Beadle said.

Verizon had been working on a reduction before SBC's announcement, she said. The company previously charged $29.95 for DSL on a one-year contract or as part of a package, or $37.95 when purchased month-to-month. Verizon said it also will temporarily waive a one-time shipping and activation fee.

San Antonio-based SBC lowered the price of its standard DSL service to $14.95 a month from $19.95.

Comcast has 7.4 million users and offers high-speed Internet service for $35 a month for the first 12 months in some areas.

Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable offer subscribers a 6-month promotional rate of $29.95.

The number of subscribers to Verizon's DSL, which runs over copper telephone wires, and its FiOS Internet service over fiber-optic cables increased by 385,000 to 3.9 million in the first quarter. SBC added a record 504,000 DSL users for a total of 5.6 million.

BellSouth Corp., the third-largest U.S. local-telephone carrier, plans to double the speed of its fastest service for residential and small business customers in the fourth quarter. BellSouth's current service sells for $35 to $55 a month.

Verizon's latest offer includes a combination DSL modem and router for customers who sign one-year contracts. The device lets users share the DSL connection with more than one computer in a home.

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