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Sprint makes dash into ISP market

Sprint plans to join its telco brethren in the Internet access market.

Sprint plans to join the rest of its telco brethren in the consumer Internet access market by year's end, following AT&T, MCI Telecommunications, and several Baby Bells.

Sprint already offers Net access services to businesses, but this will be its first dial-up service for consumers. The company has talked with Netscape Communications about offering its Navigator Web browser as part of the service, but no deal has been finalized, according to a Sprint spokesman.

The telcos have muscled their way into the Net access market, posing serious competition to national and regional Internet service providers such as Netcom. While some of the new services, such as AT&T's WorldNet, have drawn complaints about customer support and reliability, the telcos have been able to establish a new price threshold--$19.95 a month for unlimited access--and have a direct marketing line into homes through their phone services.

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ISPs find niche with Net-savvy users