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Verizon testing 7mbps DSL

Verizon is giving some consumers a taste of higher-speed DSL service.

Verizon Communications is testing a new service that more than doubles the download speeds on its digital subscriber line service.

The trial, which is open only to selected residential customers, provides download speeds of 7.1 megabits per second with upload speeds of 768 kilobits per second upstream. News of the trial was first reported Wednesday on the Web site Broadband Reports.

A Verizon representative confirmed that the company is testing the new service, but she said it has not determined if and when it will offer the upgrade to consumers, or how much it would cost.

The 7.1mbps DSL service is currently offered to business customers, she added. The cost of the business service ranges from $204.95 per month to $234.95 per month and includes other services such as a security suite, personal e-mail accounts, one-year domain-name registration, and dial-up use for remote workers.

In April Verizon doubled the download speed of its $30-a-month service, to 3mbps, with an upload speed of 1.5mbps.

For more than a year now, phone companies have primarily competed in the broadband market based on price. Earlier this summer, Verizon introduced a service that costs $14.95 for download speeds of 768kbps and upload speeds of 128kbps.

But increasingly, phone companies have been boosting speeds on their service to compete with cable providers, who are also offering higher and higher broadband speeds.

Earlier this month, BellSouth announced it was increasing its service to 6mbps of download capacity and 512kbps upload capacity. Previously, the fastest service available from BellSouth was 3mbps downstream and 384kpbs upstream for $42.95 per month.