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ISP touts T1 speeds over standard lines

CAIS Internet is rolling out a new high-speed Internet technology that uses existing phone wires.

In another effort to meet the demand for services offering fast Internet connections, CAIS Internet is rolling out a new high-speed Internet technology that uses existing copper phone lines to deliver speeds of 1.54 mbps and up to 10 mbps.

Dubbed OverVoice, it is the latest example of the battle to deploy high-speed Net access--this time to multiunit dwellings. CAIS, a division of CGX Telecom, contends the service is less expensive, easier to deploy, and "as fast or faster" than ADSL, ISDN, or cable modems.

"We're looking to work with other ISPs and property-management companies to roll this service out," said CAIS president Ulysses Auger. The company will start OverVoice in Washington, D.C., and then roll out in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York during the next 6 to 18 months, he added.

The Virginia-based Internet provider is not alone in its efforts, however. @Home, which provides high-speed Net access via cable, provides a similar service to apartments called an MDU solution, for multidwelling units. (Cox, one of @Home's owners, uses the service in Orange County, California.)

OverVoice became available at an apartment complex in Arlington, Virginia. The Washington Marriott hotel also is offering the service in meeting rooms.

After the apartment building trial, the company plans to charge between $40 and $50 per month for the service at other multiunit dwellings, comparable to dial-up Net access with a second line or cable modem Net access. It has not yet set a price for hotels such as the Washington Marriott.

OverVoice has adapted the Ethernet standard used for local area networks in a way that lets existing phone wiring carry both voice and data. It also will soon be available to accommodate video.

The product uses a dedicated line between an apartment building and the ISP. The line is connected to an Ethernet hub, which connects to a proprietary device called an OverVoice Aggregator that collects Net traffic at the building rather than a phone company's office. An OverVoice wall jack, which has separate openings for the phone and computer lines, replaces the current phone jack.

The connection is "always on."

CAIS Internet provides Net access to more than 50 ISPs worldwide, providing Net access to 600,000 end users.