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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Microsoft Corp and Verizon Communications Inc are teaming up to offer DSL internet access to consumers in the US. Under a cozy deal announced yesterday, Verizon becomes the "preferred" network provider for MSN in areas where Verizon has a network, and MSN is the "preferred" internet service for Verizon.

The deal appears to be an expansion of a relationship inked last year and announced in October, whereby Microsoft was to pay to offer its services via the DSL networks of Verizon, as well as BellSouth Corp and SBC Communications Inc. Under the new deal, Verizon will offer MSN to its existing customers, and the service will be co-developed and co-marketed.

Microsoft is already tightly partnered with Qwest Communications International Inc, under a relationship announced a year ago. MSN is Qwest's preferred ISP, and the companies offer a jointly branded broadband service to consumers in Qwest's 14-state geographical franchise.

The Verizon/MSN service will become available early 2003, the companies said. There is a commitment to jointly develop additional services that are likely to include file-sharing, "collaborative browsing", voice over IP and unified messaging, the companies said in a statement. Further details of "premium" services will be announced closer to launch.

Last year's Qwest deal called for Qwest to exclusively market MSN DSL services in its home markets, and to offer MSN Internet Access packages outside these markets too. It was not immediately clear how or if the Qwest deal will be effected by the MSN-Verizon tie-up.

Microsoft believes that the expected mass uptake of broadband internet services in the US means all customers, even those of rivals such as AOL, are up for grabs, as people migrate from dialup. AOL, meanwhile, has been launching services over cable networks owned by its sister company, Time Warner Cable, and also has a deal in place to buy DSL and dial ports from Qwest and Verizon.

© ComputerWire.

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