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BellSouth ups DSL speed

Carrier doubles the download speed of its DSL service with a new 6mbps offering.

BellSouth has doubled the speed of its fastest broadband service in an effort to compete against cable companies.

The carrier, which serves much of the southeastern United States, on Wednesday said it would add a fourth tier of service to its DSL lineup. The new service will provide 6mbps of downloading capacity and 512kbps for uploading capacity. Previously, the fastest service available from BellSouth was 3mbps downstream and 384kpbs upstream for $42.95 per month.

The company will continue to offer the 3mbps service along with the other two offerings, which include a 1.5mbps downstream and 256kbps upstream service for $32.95 per month and a 256kbps downstream and 128kbps upstream service for $24.95 per month.

"BellSouth recognizes that many of our customers want faster speeds to get the most out of their Internet experience," Pam Jones, vice president of data product management for BellSouth, said in a statement. "We are committed to providing the greatest choice and value to our customers--and with this new service, BellSouth now offers the widest range of broadband options in our market."

BellSouth said the new tier of service is being offered for customers who want to download large files like movies or play games online.

BellSouth and other DSL providers are facing stiff competition from cable operators that typically offer higher-speed services. Cablevision, a cable company in the Northeast, announced earlier this month a new premium service with download speeds of 30mbps and 50mbps. It also increased its download speeds on its basic service from 10mbps to 15mbps at no additional charge to customers.

Phone companies like Verizon Communications and SBC Communications have mostly been competing with cable companies on price. These carriers have announced introductory pricing in the $15 range. But BellSouth has resisted cutting prices.

The battle for broadband customers has heated up recently as four cable companies--Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications---announced they have struck a deal with Sprint Nextel to offer customers wireless telephone service. Cable companies believe that packaging wireless service with existing services such as high-speed Internet access, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and television will make them more attractive to consumers compared with their telephone competitors.

BellSouth also offers its own version of a so-called quadruple play. It is part owner of Cingular Wireless, and it has a deal with satellite TV provider DirecTV to offer television service.