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Users wait for more than dial tone

Californians waiting for more Internet access options will have to wait a bit longer.

Californians waiting for more Internet access options will have to wait a bit longer now that Pacific Bell has delayed the debut of its Net access service by a month.

Originally scheduled for next week's Internet World show in San Jose, the rollout is now due May 28. The company then expects to offer dial-up access to 75 percent of its customers in the San Francisco Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego regions. California accounts for 35 percent to 40 percent of Internet traffic, according to Pacific Bell.

The Net service, to be called Pacific Bell Internet, will use a branded version of Navigator, although it will "fully support" other browsers, Miller said. The company would not discuss pricing or specific features, saying only that it intended to give the service a "California flavor" and "unique pricing structure."

In a separate development, the Pacific Bell Interactive Media division based in Pasadena, California, announced that it will debut a free, Web-based directory service called At Hand in July. The service will provide information on California merchants and services.

Like the Yellow Pages, the At Hand directory will list basic information but will provide extra exposure for an added fee. "For example, Joe's Hardware will be listed," said spokesman David Dickstein. "If they pay extra, we can create a Web page for them. Or we'll tailor their existing Web site to At Hand to keep people inside [the service]."