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March 19, 1996

Bell Atlantic to Launch Internet Service

By Reuters
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Bell Atlantic Corp. will announce an Internet access service in the next few weeks, Chief Executive Raymond Smith said on Monday.

"It will happen in the next few weeks, it will probably be in mid-April," Smith told an investor conference here. Smith gave no details of the service, saying the price would be announced later.

In a Federal Communications Commission filing, obtained by Reuters, Bell Atlantic says it will not only provide dial-up and private line connection, but will help customers host sites on the popular World Wide Web section of the Internet.

The filing lists the first area to be connected as Washington in April, with 10 cities covered by the end of the year and another nine by the end of 1997. The filing says it may provide Internet services out of region in the future.

The filing does not disclose the preferred browser software.

Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic, one of the last Bells to announce its Internet service, joins AT&T Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. in muscling into a market which only a year ago was the preserve of a series of small specialist firms.

Now almost every major telephone company is getting in on the act as the number of Internet users in the United States is projected to double every year from its current 10 million 12 million.

Pacific Telesis Group, based in San Francisco, said this month it would in April offer a consumer Internet service. Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp. will offer Internet access to customers in 10 cities by the summer and 20 by the year end.

Chicago-based Ameritech Corp. in February said it was planning an Internet service with enough content so that it could be used in place of an online service, and this would include electronic yellow and white pages.

Colorado-based US West Inc. offers dial-up Internet service in Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Omaha, Phoenix Portland and Salt Lake City.

SBC Communications Inc., which is based in San Antonio, Tex., and New York's NYNEX Corp. plan to announce Internet access services by the end of the year, but have made no announcements yet.

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