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Cox, @Home offer fast Net access

The two companies launch high-speed Internet access for businesses in Orange County and San Diego, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.

Cox and @Home said today that they launched high-speed Internet access for businesses in Orange County and San Diego, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.

The rollout is the latest attempt by the cable industry to battle telecommunications carriers in providing fast Net access. Phoenix has become a battleground, with US West's recent rollout of Net access over copper wires, dubbed DSL (digital subscriber line), in that city.

@Home and Cox's product is called Cox@Work. It promises users a complete package of equipment and "always on" connectivity to the Net.

"Cox@Work provides a reliable, cost effective alternative to expensive RBOC and LEC private line services," Don Hutchison, senior vice president and general manager of @Work, said in a statement.

@Work is a unit of @Home that focuses on the business market. It got off to a slow start, but recently has been signing up more customers and striking more alliances with cable operators. Cox already is a major stakeholder in @Home.

Connecting to the Net by cable remains a small business, with an estimated more than 100,000 subscribers in the United States. But it has promising growth potential.

As reported last week, @Home and Time Warner's Road Runner, which also provides Net access via cable, have been in talks about a possible merger, although no deal is imminent. The companies also hope to expand by striking alliances with online services. Road Runner, for example, has said it was talking with America Online about some type of alliance.