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Internet

Pac Bell seeks to raise ISDN prices

Pacific Bell projects that more than 70 percent of ISDN lines used for Internet access will be in California homes by the year 2000. As a result, the company has requested a price increase to fund the systems needed to meet growing demands.

Pacific Bell projects that more than 70 percent of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines used for Internet access will be in California homes by the year 2000. As a result, the company has put in a request to the California Public Utilities Commission to increase rates.

"The reason that we would like to raise prices is because the installations have become very expensive for us and we didn't expect this amount of growth so fast," said Mary Hancock, corporate spokesperson for Pacific Bell. In the past 10 months, Pacific Bell said it had a 200 percent growth of ISDN lines installed in California.

The company claims its prices are the lowest in the country for unlimited access to the Net. Currently, the monthly rate is $24.50; the installation fee is waived if the consumer subscribes for two or more years. Phone charges are 3 cents for the first minute and 1 cent for each additional minute, regardless of demographics. "We don't penalize customers who are far away from our office," said Hancock. "Why should users have to pay more just because they are far away?"

Once the prices increase, the installation fee will be $125, but the monthly fee will stay the same. Pacific Bell is also requesting that the 1-cent charge be increased to 2 cents.

A date has not been set for the price change. "Sometimes our requests turn over in six months and sometimes it takes two years," said Hancock.

Pacific Bell officials said they don't expect the price change to decrease subscriptions and aren't threatened by companies like @Home and Time Warner, who plan to offer Net access via cable modems. "We think that cable modems are definitely an option for people who want high-speed access," said Hancock. "However, ISDN is much more secure than cable modems, and I think for that reason, ISDN will become mainstream in California homes."