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@Home goes to work

In one of the most ambitious efforts yet, @Home Network will roll out its @Work service.

@Home Network will announce Monday a national rollout of high-speed Internet access to business customers in more than 50 U.S. cities, one of the most ambitious efforts yet to tap a lucrative and fast-growing market.

Until now, @Home's main focus has been on the consumer market, where it offers Internet access through two-way cable systems and cable modems. The business service, dubbed @Work, has been offered only on a limited basis.

The company will now launch a large-scale business service and is ramping up to enter the international market. The company is partnering with Teleport Communications Group to offer the service.

@Work will offer two components: @Work Remote, which offers telecommuters high-speed Net access to their computers at work, as well as @Work Internet, which operates like a commercial Internet service provider to connect business networks to the Internet. It hooks up companies through phone lines as well as cable systems. @Home contends its so-called distributed network architecture is less congested and more reliable than others.

The service is likely to provide competition to other high-speed Net access services such as ISDN, as well as standard ISPs. Netcom, for example, recently began focusing on the Net access market for business and PSINet has always targeted this niche.

@Home would not comment on Monay's launch, but information about the plan was temporarily posted on its Web site. It showed the rollout will occur in 22 states scattered throughout the country. Among those included were Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and New York.

The Web site has now been taken down until Monday's official launch.

Company executives previously have said that @Work Remote may cost between $100 and $200 per month, but pricing has not been finalized, a company spokesman cautioned.

@Work's fiber-based connections are "significantly faster" than ISDN or T1 lines. The @Home networks are also less congested than other services, the company contends.

The @Work service relies on a customized browser from Netscape Communications.

The company also is expected to announce additional partnerships, including deals with telecommunications carriers, to make the service a reality, sources said.

Privately held @Home was formed in 1995.

Some of @Work's management, including senior vice president and general manager Don Hutchison, come from Netcom.