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CompuServe's update due next month

CompuServe is close to distributing the new version of its online service.

CompuServe plans to start shipping the much-delayed version of its updated online service next month.

In an attempt to be more competitive with cheaper Internet services, CompuServe also is studying possible changes to its subscription prices, Bloomberg news service reported.

Price changes, such as flat fees for a set amount of hours, could be decided by the end of the year. "The revenue model has to change," said Dennis Matteucci, CompuServe's president of online services.

America Online, which this month started a flat fee for customers, a move expected to reduce revenue during the next two quarters.

CompuServe's new version is designed to be easier to use and will incorporate more Internet links. It also includes the latest version of Microsoft's Internet browser.

The company will send CD-ROMs and disks to its subscribers to update the service on their computers. It also will be included in the Windows 95 operating system.

The update, initially scheduled for release last spring, was postponed after the company decided to move the entire service to the Internet to take advantage of cheaper and more innovative technology.