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@Home opens doors in Canada

The cable Net access firm announces that it will offer high-speed service in Canada, its first international expansion.

@Home Network announced today that it will offer high-speed Internet access in Canada, its first international expansion.

As reported yesterday by CNET, the company has sold a small equity stake to Canada's dominant cable TV operators, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, and will roll out a service called WAVE @Home.

The service is expected to pass 2 million Canadian households by year's end, a significant boost for the fledgling company. Pricing has not yet been set.

The deal, which offers @Home access to 50 percent of the households connected by cable in North America, raises the stakes in the race to provide high-speed Net access in the fast growing North American market. Twenty-three percent of all people on the continent over the age of 16 have used the Internet, up from 10 percent two years ago, according to a recent study.

@Home, which is considering an initial public offering, is owned by U.S. cable giants Tele-Communications Incorporated, Cox Communications, and Comcast, as well as venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Also, @Home's major investors are soon expected to supply another round of financing, a spokesman said.

@Home chief executive Tom Jermoluk said "Canada is a tremendous market for high-speed cable Internet services."

Rogers CEO Ted Rogers added: "It always has been our goal to enhance speed and provide a total network solution [for our customers]."

The content will be tailored to a Canadian audience. Like the United States, Canada is grappling with laws that regulate trademark rights and decency laws on the Internet.

@Home has made significant progress since its much-publicized cable Internet access got off to a slow and disappointing start. In 1996, the two-year-old company missed some key launch dates, and partner TCI recently cut back its expansion into cyberspace.

Recently, however, the company has been on a roll. Earlier this week, @Home launched a companion service, dubbed @Work, to offer high-speed Net access to businesses.

@Home is not alone. Time Warner offers a service called Road Runner, which is being offered nationally. Other cable operators, such as Continental Cablevision, also offer high-speed Net access with cable modems.

Telecommunications carriers such as Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell are offering high-speed Net access through regular phone lines. Their offerings include fast connections using ISDN and ADSL technology.