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UUNet to launch high-speed access

Internet World UUNet is expected to announce a hybrid technology called ISDL that bypasses switches of local phone companies such as Pacific Bell.

Internet World High-speed connectivity is getting a boost again, this time with a product that bypasses switches of local phone companies such as Pacific Bell.

On Wednesday, UUNet and its parent company WorldCom are expected to announce the national rollout of higher-speed Net access over traditional phone lines, sources told CNET today. Dubbed "IDSL," the product is a hybrid of ISDN and xDSL.

The higher-speed Net access service, called "Preferred Access 128," will be rolled out throughout the year. It will offer faster, affordable Net access for businesses, and to reduce the level of congestion on traditional switched phone networks with a direct connection to the Net.

The company also plans to offer the Preferred Access Service, which includes an easy upgrade path to 768-kbps bandwidth.

Executives wouldn't comment until an announcement at Spring Internet World, but some details have begun to leak out. The technology, which the company also calls "unswitched xDSL service," was first outlined in December by UUNet executives.

San Francisco is expected to be one of the first markets for the launch, company sources said.

The service is jointly developed with computer networking company Ascend Communications. It will leverage the assets of WorldCom's growing telecommunications empire: UUNet, with its Internet backbone, and MFS Communications, which has a local phone network.

UUNet and WorldCom are likely to use the product as ammo in the ongoing debate about how to reduce Net congestion. UUNet executives will discuss regulatory issues surrounding the launch during Tuesday's announcement.

The combination technology is a potent threat to regional Bell operating companies, such as Pacific Bell, which is offering competiting services.

The Baby Bells want Internet service providers to help pay the cost of upgrading their networks, which they say are being overtaxed by Net use. ISPs are balking, however, and the Federal Communications Commission has the final say over whether to impose the so-called Net access fees. FCC Chairman Reed Hundt opposes such fees.