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@Home pipes in audio

The company announces a service to download high-quality audio within minutes, including music, news, and sports broadcasts.

@Home Network (ATHM) isn't just for email and Web surfing anymore.

The company, which provides high-speed Net connections over cable systems, today announced a service called TuneIn to download high-quality audio, including music, news, and sports broadcasts.

As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, the announcement comes two weeks after the company's initial public offering, which has resulted in a near doubling of its stock price based on enthusiasm about the service's potential. Competition is stiff, however. Telephone carriers and ISPs are rolling out their own high-speed Net access, including xDSL and ISDN.

The service, which costs subscribers nothing, lets users download music at up to 80 kbps, much faster than normal phone line connections, a spokeswoman said. The company's partners will include CBS Sportsline; N2K, which operates Music Boulevard; TheDJ; and CNET Radio, a spokeswoman said tonight.

The audio is not going to make @Home significantly more profitable in and of itself. But it shows the wide-ranging potential of high-bandwidth services such as @Home, whose owners include Tele-Communications Incorporated, Cox Communications, and Comcast.

In May, @Home announced that its customers will be able to get the Microsoft Network starting in the third quarter for an extra $6.95 a month. The deal is part of @Home's bid to offer more content to enhance its cable-modem Net service. It represents the first so-called premium service.

Similar arrangements are expected to follow. Cable modem access typically costs $35 to $55 per month.