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US West to open 10 city guides

US West Interactive Services plans to launch its metropolitan directory service DiveIn in ten cities this month.

US West Interactive Services plans to launch its metropolitan directory service DiveIn in ten cities around mid-March, making it one of the most ambitious projects of its kind, executives told CNET today.

The company plans to launch the service in Atlanta; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Jacksonville, Florida; and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area--all on the same day. US West previously had not disclosed the cities or the launch date.

But a spokesman confirmed the details after they appeared on the DiveIn Web site today. "It's going to happen in a couple of weeks," he said.

US West's rollout comes as other city directories such as Microsoft's Sidewalk are being prepared for launch and as Digital City migrates to the Web. Meanwhile, Cox Enterprises, CitySearch, and Yahoo's regional directories continue to expand.

The plan also is the most ambitious Web content effort of the telcos. Pacific Bell offers AtHand, a similar product, but it is focused only on California.

DiveIn is a Web-based local information service that US West claims "puts the power of the Web to work for communities across the country by collecting and packaging the best local information available online." That may include finding out the date of the next city council meeting or planning a weekend trip.

The service is free to use, making its money by selling local and national ads. They will include banners, sponsorships, or "microsites" on the Web site. No classified ads will be offered, at least for now.

DiveIn is divided into eight categories: entertainment; schools and learning; health and wellness; lifestyles and hobbies; travel and weekend getaways; media and news; sports and recreation; and business and careers.

The company has struck content deals with partners such as golf.com, America's HouseCall Network, H.O.T! Coupons, HotWired, Inns & Outs, Preview Travel, MovieLink, Quote.com., SportsLine, The Weather Channel, and U.S. West Yellow Pages.