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AT&T expands DSL presence

The company introduces digital subscriber line services in three more states as part of its ongoing effort to offer broadband to more customers.

AT&T introduced digital subscriber line services in three more states as part of its ongoing effort to offer broadband to more customers.

Ma Bell announced Tuesday that customers in Texas, Michigan and Indiana can get DSL on top of their bundled local and long-distance phone service. The move comes two months after AT&T expanded DSL service into Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. In July, the company began offering DSL to customers in New York.

AT&T charges $19.95 a month for the first three months and then $39.95 per month after that for its standard 384kbps (kilobits per second) DSL service. The company's faster 1.5mbps (megabits per second) service costs $49.95 a month with a $20 discount for the first three months.

AT&T jump-started its DSL plans in July when it partnered with service provider Covad Communications to offer broadband as part of its local and long-distance phone package. Like other DSL providers--namely Baby Bells SBC Communications, Verizon Communications, BellSouth and Qwest Communications International--AT&T hopes DSL offerings will keep people from dropping their voice services.

Phone companies have been suffering from customer defections from their voice services because of wireless growth and cable's expansion into voice. This sobering reality has forced them to accelerate their DSL efforts. Cable companies are winning the broadband race against the Bells and have the advantage of offering video programming on top of data and voice.

The Bells have fought back by introducing reduced rates of less than $30 a month for some services. However, many cable companies have offered their own discounts and have nearly doubled their base download speeds.