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@Home speeds business access

In one of the most ambitious efforts yet, @Home Network will roll out its @Work service.

@Home Network announced today a national rollout of high-speed Internet access to business customers in more than 50 U.S. cities, one of the most ambitious efforts yet to tap a lucrative and fast-growing market.

As reported last week by CNET's NEWS.COM, the company plans to launch a large-scale business service and is ramping up to enter the international market. The company is partnering with Teleport Communications Group to offer the service.

Until now, @Home's main focus has been on the consumer market, where it offers Internet access through two-way cable systems and cable modems. The business service, dubbed @Work, has been offered only on a limited basis.

"This agreement gives @Home a nationwide footprint in the commercial marketplace," said @Home chief executive Tom Jermoluk. "@Work is well positioned to lead the market in providing Internet-based business solutions."

@Work will offer two components: @Work Remote, which offers telecommuters high-speed Net access to their computers at work, as well as @Work Internet, which operates like a commercial Internet service provider to connect business networks to the Internet.

The partnership hooks up companies through standard phone lines as well as cable systems. @Home contends that its so-called distributed network architecture is less congested and more reliable than others.

The service is likely to provide competition to other high-speed Net access services such as ISDN, as well as to companies that offer standard connections. Netcom, for example, recently began focusing on the Net access market for business, and PSINet has always targeted this niche.

@Work will be offered in 22 states scattered throughout the country. Among those included were Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia.

@Work's fiber-based connections will connect at speeds "significantly faster" than ISDN or T1 lines. The @Home networks are also less congested than other services, the company contends.

The @Work service relies on a customized browser from Netscape Communications. Some of @Work's management, including senior vice president and general manager Don Hutchison, come from Netcom.

In a separate announcement, General Instrument said it would supply "Surfboard" telco-return modems to help launch @Home's service in the consumer market.