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Qwest raises DSL speed limits

Qwest Communications International nearly triples the official speeds at which customers will be able to download Web pages and Net files.

Qwest Communications International is raising the speed limit on its most basic high-speed Internet services, nearly tripling the official speeds at which customers will be able to download Web pages and Net files.

The company, which recently merged with US West to take over its 14-state service area, is stepping up its high-speed Net marketing campaign to better compete against rival cable modem services.

US West was one of the most innovative local phone companies trying to bring high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) service into the consumer market. The company is the only one to offer a cut-rate service starting at $29.95 that offers the same high download speeds, but unlike most DSL services is not always on.

Qwest CEO changes the rules The Qwest offer will boost customers' lowest promised download speed from 256 kpbs per second to 640 kpbs per second, or a little more than 11 times faster than the best dial-up modem.

The new download speed might be as much marketing as actual technology improvement, however. DSL customers around the country have long reported getting speeds far above what they were actually paying for, depending on the quality of their telephone lines and how far away from the telephone office they lived.

The top speed of a DSL connection drops as the length of the connection between a house and the telephone company's office increases. Homes more than about three miles from the central office cannot get DSL service unless the telephone company adds new, often expensive equipment to the telephone lines.