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@Home to offer DSL service

The cable access firm will team with NorthPoint Communications to offer DSL, in what could be seen as a divergent course of action.

The @Home Network and NorthPoint Communications will team up to offer high-speed Net access over copper wires, dubbed DSL, to small businesses later this year.

The announcement could be seen as a divergent course of action for cable Net access firm @Home. The company long has touted cable access, a competing technology to DSL (digital subscriber lines). But the service will be offered through the company's @Work business-services division, which also uses phone lines to provide Net access to small companies.

"We really think cable is the winner in the consumer space," an @Home spokesman said. But for small and medium-sized businesses, the company wants to offer other options as well.

Today's deal calls for @Work, @Home's business division, to provide DSL service in several major metropolitan areas during the next year, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington. The DSL option with NorthPoint, a telecommunications carrier, will offer businesses a mid-level option with speeds between that of ISDN and T-1 service.

@Work also will buy a minority equity stake in NorthPoint, but the companies will not discuss the size of the investment, a spokeswoman said.