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DirecTV DSL begins its fade to black

Satellite-television company Hughes Electronics begins shutting off service to whoever remains of the 160,000 subscribers to its scratched high-speed Web service, DirecTV DSL.

Satellite-television company Hughes Electronics began on Friday to shut off service to whoever remains of the 160,000 subscribers to its scratched high-speed Web service, DirecTV DSL.

Hughes gave DirecTV DSL customers what now amounts to six weeks notice to find another provider when it announced Dec. 13 that it would shut down the service.

DirecTV DSL has made arrangements with Verizon Communications, SBC Communications and BellSouth for the handing off of subscribers who want to go to one of those services. In many cases, those companies offer DSL at slightly lower prices than DirecTV did.

The shuttering of DirecTV DSL, which will be completed by Feb. 28, leaves high-speed Web consumers with one less alternative, and follows a string of provider collapses in the last two years, which included NorthPoint Communications' DSL and Excite@Home's cable modem services.

DirecTV DSL, originally an independent ISP called Telocity, was acquired by Hughes Electronics in 2001. Over the last several years it had become one of the largest DSL providers not affiliated with a local phone company.

Like other independent DSL companies, however, DirecTV found that being an indie was an expensive proposition. Late last year, following the failure of Hughes' proposed merger with rival satellite company EchoStar, DirecTV's corporate parent decided the money-losing broadband operation was too costly to maintain.