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Investment shifts Verio into high speed

The network services firm increases its stake in carrier NorthPoint Communications and will offer high-speed Net access in 13 new markets.

Verio has increased its equity stake in NorthPoint Communications with an additional $4.4 million investment and will offer high-speed Internet access via the company in 13 new markets.

Verio, a network services firm, decided to raise its initial $5.6 million stake--bringing its total financial commitment in NorthPoint to $10 million--as a result of the demand for broadband data services, company executives said.

The move is a further indication that high-speed Net access will be a lucrative asset for both new telecommunications entrants like NorthPoint, as well as for more traditional phone carriers, such as the Baby Bells.

Last month the company announced it would resell NorthPoint's digital subscriber lines, or DSL, in eight U.S. markets.

Verio targets small and mid-sized business customers by bundling NorthPoint's DSL connections with several Internet Protocol-based services such as domain name registration, outsourced email, and Web hosting.

Executives said the two companies will jointly market DSL service and that much of Verio's financial investment in NorthPoint will go toward funding radio, TV, and other media and advertising buys.

The companies offer DSL in 10 markets--including two new markets added today--and plan to launch service in Detroit, Michigan, Austin, Texas, and Miami, Florida, by the end of May.

NorthPoint, which is slated to go public in early May, is expected to offer service in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Tampa, Florida, later this year.