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Discount ISP offers speedier dial-up

Internet service provider NetZero launches a faster version of its dial-up service in an effort to woo consumers looking for faster access without higher broadband fees.

Discount Internet service provider NetZero has launched a speedier version of its dial-up service to appeal to consumers looking for faster Web access without higher broadband fees.

The new NetZero HiSpeed service, announced Tuesday, uses technology from SlipStream Data, which stores information from Web sites that people have already visited to load those pages faster during new visits. The launch follows a similar announcement last week from EarthLink, which began offering faster page loads for an extra fee.

NetZero HiSpeed costs $14.95 a month in contrast to the $9.95 monthly fee for its standard dial-up service. EarthLink's service, which uses technology from Propel, costs $28.95 a month.

The launch of NetZero's new service comes as the market for higher-priced dial-up services such as America Online, Microsoft's MSN and EarthLink has become saturated. However, discount ISPs, such as NetZero's parent company United Online, have witnessed growth. Last quarter, United Online reported a 49 percent increase in its paying subscribers since last year.

Dial-up ISPs are facing defections to faster broadband services provided by cable and telephone companies. AOL and MSN have signaled their intent to step back from providing their own broadband access and content services, instead moving toward branding partnerships with people's existing broadband providers.

Although the dial-up accelerators from NetZero and EarthLink can speed up page downloads, file transfers and media streaming speeds will remain the same.