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Verio backs business ISPs

Verio will launch a national Internet backbone and reveal that it has bought or invested in some 25 ISPs focused on small and midsized businesses.

Verio, formed with $80 million in private financing from venture capitalists and other investors, tomorrow will launch its Internet backbone, CNET has learned.

The company has bought or invested in some 25 regional Internet service providers focused on small and midsized business customers, not consumer dial-up accounts. Founders of Verio, formed last year as World-Net Access, were involved in launching Nextel Communications, ISP UUNet Technologies, and Cellular One.

Verio affiliates, which will continue to be locally managed, will be able to offer services in other regional markets through other affiliates. Among the Verio affiliates is Network Intensive, based in Irvine, California, which received a "substantial" but undisclosed amount as an investment from Denver-based Verio.

Verio will position itself as offering more customized and cheaper service than national ISPs or telecommunications firms.

Affiliates also will get direct access to Verio's high-speed, "tier-one" national backbone, peering relationships, national network operations center, engineering support, centralized marketing, and support resources including 24-hour customer service, accounting operations, and volume purchase agreements with Internet technology firms such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and firewall vendor Raptor Systems.

Verio's backing comes from financing and telecommunications firms including Norwest Venture Capital, Brooks Fiber Properties, Centennial Funds, Telecom Partners, Fleet Equity Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Boston Capital Ventures, and Providence Equity Partners.

Business-oriented ISPs generally offer high-speed connections, Web site and server hosting, commerce services, and electronic security products.