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New partners for CompuServe

The online service teams up with seven Net firms for its new offering, C for CompuServe.

    Signaling that it is serious about competing in an increasingly bloated field, CompuServe today announced that seven Internet firms have agreed to participate in the online provider's upcoming offering, called C for CompuServe.

    The service, which is expected to launch in December, will feature more than 500 forums, in which visitors can participate in chat sessions, search through databases, and make online purchases. Online bookseller BarnesandNoble.com, electronic stockbroker E*Trade, and Internet travel agent SABRE Interactive are among the partners announced.

    Over the last year, a number of other providers have beefed up their online offerings in an attempt to lure subscribers or increase traffic at their sites. Specifically, Microsoft Network and Snap Online are placing considerable resources in offering online content. (Snap Online is owned by CNET, The Computer Network, publisher of NEWS.COM.) Currently, America Online dominates the market. Today's CompuServe announcement demonstrates that even though C for CompuServe is a relative latecomer in the rush to expand online offerings, it is serious about making the venture work.

    The service will be offered on three levels. Web surfers who are not CompuServe subscribers will be able to access basic features of the service, while customers of the service and those who specifically sign on to C for CompuServe will be eligible for more offerings, such as pay-per-view access to databases and the ability to make online purchases.

    CompuServe said its new service aims to pull business professionals and technically adept people who earn above-average income. According to Beth Sibbring, a CompuServe vice president, median income for subscribers now stands at $82,000.