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Verizon includes Microsoft content

The service, available for $34.95 a month, includes Microsoft’s MSN 8 parental controls, virus protection and filters that reduce junk e-mail, the companies said in statements. Verizon began selling the so-called digital subscriber line service April 28, according to the company’s Web site.

Microsoft and Verizon pushed back the original March 31 start date to work out details such as customer installation. Microsoft said in March that the slower-than-expected rollout of its fast Internet service had hurt sales. Verizon, like other local-phone companies, is trying to catch up to cable providers, which sell a competing type of fast Web access that has twice as many users.

Shares of New York-based Verizon fell 11 cents to $37.39 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Microsoft fell 22 cents to $25.99 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Verizon, which sells local calling in 29 U.S. states, said DSL subscribers will also be able to surf the Internet without wires or cables using so-called wireless fidelity technology at 150 sites in New York City. The company plans to set up 1,000 New York locations that let customers log onto the Web within a 300- foot range, said Bruce Gordon, president of Verizon’s retail markets group, in an interview.

DSL Breakeven

Verizon said in March it would make 46 million, or 80 percent, of its local lines capable of providing high-speed Internet access, up from about two-thirds of the lines. The company had 1.83 million DSL subscribers at the end of the first quarter. The business won’t reach breakeven in terms of cash flow until it has 3 million to 3.5 million customers, Vice Chairman Lawrence Babbio has said.

Microsoft’s MSN software will be sent to Verizon’s new DSL subscribers and existing users who request it, Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe said.

“We have pretty ambitious forecasts for the next year,” MSN North America Vice President Richard Bray said in an interview. “We are looking for something at the hundreds of thousands level or up.”

On May 5, shares of Comcast Corp., the No. 1 U.S. cable- television company, fell 3 percent because of concern that a reduction in Verizon’s DSL price from $49.95 a month would spark a price battle for high-speed Internet customers.

At the end of 2002, cable companies including Comcast had 11 million broadband users, compared with 5 million DSL subscribers at phone companies, according to researcher Yankee Group.

Among the other Microsoft content included in Verizon’s DSL product is an encyclopedia and a tool that lets customers create online photo albums, according to the statement.

Source: Boston Herald