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DSL provider thinks Firefox is foxy

Speakeasy becomes first ISP to package the open-source browser into its service, hoping to woo the tech-savvy crowd.

Broadband ISP Speakeasy said it will offer its subscribers a version of the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox Web browser in hopes of appealing to a more tech-savvy crowd.

Speakeasy, which sells high-speed DSL (digital subscriber line) access, becomes the first Internet service provider to package Firefox, a free open-source browser, as part of its setup software for new customers. When people run Speakeasy's setup disc, Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser will be downloaded onto their PC desktop.

Mike Apgar, founder of Speakeasy, said he decided to include Firefox after playing around with it for a while on his own.

"It's a better browsing experience, so that makes it a better experience for our customers," Apgar said.

The Speakeasy version of Firefox, announced Tuesday, is not different from what the public can download for free. All of Firefox's features, such as tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking, are included in the software.

Firefox has attracted headlines in the past six months because studies show it is making steady gains in consumer usage at the expense of Microsoft's nearly ubiquitous IE browser. While IE remains the undisputed heavyweight of Web browsers, studies are showing a small but sustained decline in IE's market share.

Earlier this month, Web metrics firm WebSideStory reported that 4.78 percent of all Internet surfers were using Firefox, marking a steady increase since June. IE showed a decline from 96.7 percent market share in June to its current 92.7 percent share.