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Yahoo busy with new initiatives

Company tests wireless Net access service, launches AT&T e-mail, soups up Yahoo Mail beta.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.
Yahoo is considering offering a wireless Internet access service, and has launched a beta test of its Web-based e-mail for AT&T customers and cranked up the performance on its Yahoo Mail beta.

The TechCrunch blog reported on the potential Wi-Fi service Wednesday. A screenshot on the site "suggests that Yahoo's new messenger product (with voice over Internet Protocol capability) will be able to access certain Wi-Fi networks and allow IMing and VoIP calls," the site said.

"Now when you are on the move to the places that you go most--airports, hotels, coffee shops--you can stop twiddling your thumbs and start communicating via instant message with the people you care about most...all for free," the screenshot says.

A premium service with unrestricted access would be available for $7.95 a month, or users could pay $2.95 for two hours under a pay-as-you-go plan, the screenshot says.

"We recently conducted a survey to capture feedback on a potential on-the-road service. Yahoo does not have imminent plans to provide this service," the representative said in an e-mail response to questions.

Yahoo and AT&T announced on Wednesday a beta test of a new version of Yahoo Mail that will be available to AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet and Dial subscribers. The service offers drag-and-drop e-mail organization, message preview and an integrated Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, reader with access to breaking news, blogs and other feeds directly from Web mail, the companies said.

The AT&T Yahoo Mail beta is now available to a subset of AT&T Yahoo Mail users and will be available to all users in coming months.

Yahoo also said this week that it's boosting the speed of its new Yahoo Mail beta.

"We've heard your calls for faster--and we're continuing to soup up the Yahoo Mail beta's performance," a Yahoo blog posting said. "This (version is) twice as fast when you first launch it, and (on average) four times faster on subsequent launches."

Correction: This story incorrectly reported on the status of a wireless Internet access service. Such a service is only under consideration.