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SBC offers PCs to DSL customers

The long-distance telephone company plans to give personal computers to customers who sign a two-year contract for its high-speed Internet service.

Long-distance telephone company SBC Communications today said it plans to give personal computers to customers who sign a two-year contract for its high-speed Internet service.

The move is

Gartner analyst Jay Pultz says customers need to understand what they are getting and the length of commitment they are making when they sign up for SBC's DSL and computer offer.

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an effort to boost use of digital subscriber line (DSL) phone lines, the company said. SBC plans to charge consumers about $60 a month for the package, which includes a new Compaq Presario desktop computer preinstalled with a DSL modem and SBC's Internet access service, the company said in a statement.

SBC charges $40 per month for DSL service alone.

Customers who sign up for the new SBC deal will receive a 566-MHz Compaq Presario PC with an Intel Celeron processor, a CD-ROM drive, a 10GB hard drive and unlimited Internet access. The setup normally retails for about $1,000, the company said.

DSL technology allows telecommunications companies to deliver high-speed digital services over copper wires connecting homes to telephone networks.

SBC said the new promotion will be available through Aug. 31 to customers in California, Texas and Oklahoma along with three other states. SBC also plans to expand the promotion to additional states.

Competition among broadband communications providers is heating up. Last week, Verizon Communications, formed by the merger of local-phone giants Bell Atlantic and GTE, cut prices for its high-speed Internet service by 20 percent in certain regions.

The DSL price cuts are expected to allow telephone companies to better compete with similar broadband Net access technologies offered for about $40 a month by cable operators. Major cable TV companies such as AT&T and Time Warner deliver comparable high-speed consumer Internet services and so far have an early lead in market share.