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Qwest offers Wi-Fi ready DSL modems

The company says the new modem could save customers about $50 on their wireless network set-up costs.

Qwest Communications International on Thursday said it is offering a Wi-Fi modem to new DSL consumers and small-business subscribers.

With the new modem, the company said, its DSL (digital subscriber line) customers will not need a direct Ethernet connection from their wireless-enabled PC to send data to other computers in their home or over the Internet. The Actiontec Wireless DSL Gateway is designed to provide a 54-megabits-per-second wireless connection within a radius of 300 feet of the modem.

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Qwest said customers could save about $50 on their Wi-Fi network set-up costs, because they'll only need to install a wireless network card to work with the modem. Pricing is a key issue not just for consumers but also for DSL providers themselves, which are looking to hold their ground amid tough competition from cable broadband companies.

Wireless broadband has been catching on. But as a stand-alone service, it still represents only a small fraction of broadband connections.

The Qwest offering can be purchased for $59.99 or rented for a monthly fee of $3.