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Cable-based Net access growing

Jones Intercable will announce on Tuesday the rollout of high-speed Internet access in Virginia.

Jones Intercable (JOIN), one among the nation's ten largest cable television operators, will announce Tuesday the rollout of high-speed Internet access in Virginia.

In the latest sign of industry growth for Net access via cable, users will pay $29.95 per month for Jones's service in Prince Williams County, less than cable TV operators charge in other markets. Jones already is offering the service in Alexandria, Virginia, bundled with cable TV and local phone service.

This bundling of communications services, dubbed "one-stop shopping," is supposed to be a byproduct of telecommunications deregulation but still is in its infancy. Telephone companies and cable TV operators want to make sure they don't lose customers in their core markets before venturing into new businesses.

Jones is using Hybrid Series 2000 cable modems from Hybrid Networks.

The company's move comes as other cable TV giants, such as Time Warner, Tele-Communications Incorporated, and Comcast, are launching their own Net access via cable. While many customers like the products, others complain that the speed and customer service are unreliable.

The industry still faces stiff competition from wireline providers, which offer ISDN and ADSL. This week, for example, Westell said it would offer ADSL service in Quebec for customers of QuebecTel in Canada.