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AT&T targets Web hosting castaways

The company is launching a plan for attracting business customers displaced when other carriers cut back their Web hosting services.

AT&T is launching a plan for attracting business customers displaced when other carriers cut back on their Web hosting services.

On Tuesday the telecommunications giant will announce new service plans, financing options and an advertising campaign targeting "customers who already are stranded or fear that possibility," AT&T Chief Executive Dave Dorman is expected to say in prepared remarks.

AT&T will introduce two new Web hosting plans, with a basic plan offering one month of free service. It also will announce that it has expanded and improved its network, with newly constructed data centers in Hong Kong, Italy, France and Australia, according to Dorman's prepared statement.

A "win room" of AT&T salespeople will target companies at risk of losing their current Web hosting provider and those already cast adrift by recent cutbacks. An AT&T spokeswoman declined on Monday to provide additional details.

Web hosting is a popular way for small companies to create an online presence. Storage of Web pages and bandwidth demands are managed by an outside vendor, allowing the customer to get online for less than it would cost to buy the equipment and hire a staff to maintain it.

But the market is thinning out. On June 10, Sprint said it was closing its Web hosting business, which generated just $60 million in revenue between March 2002 and March 2003.

In December, Qwest Communications cut in half the number of data centers needed for its Web hosting, although a spokesman said Monday that the company is still committed to the business. Also in December, Cable & Wireless announced that it will close more than half of its 42 data centers. And Web hosting company Genuity filed for bankruptcy in November.