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WorldNet booms, but with some glitches

AT&T's fledgling WorldNet dial-up service is doing well but has hit a few speed bumps.

AT&T is chugging its way to the top of the list of Internet service providers but acknowledged today that its fledgling WorldNet dial-up service has hit a few speed bumps.

At a press conference today, the company said it has signed up more than 150,000 users to WorldNet since its introduction last March, a figure that gives AT&T the second largest subscriber base among ISPs, said Tom Evslin, vice president of WorldNet services. Only NetCom boasts more subscribers than AT&T, with 400,000 registered users, according to a report from CyberAtlas.

AT&T is busy, however, working on its customer support to deal with hiccups in its service, including delays in shipment of access software and difficulty in accessing WorldNet modems.

"We haven't always lived up to standards. This week was great, but the last two weeks weren't so great," Evslin said. "There were times when email was inaccessible for a time. That was inexcusable. We haven't been perfect. We haven't always lived up to the goal we've set for ourselves. We're learning a lot from our customers."

The company also said delivery of its Macintosh access software will be delayed until the summer.

Despite its admitted problems, Evlsin made it clear that AT&T is trying to win over subscribers from its competitors. In recent months, both NetCom and PSINet have said they are willing to cede novice Net users to AT&T in favor of focusing on signing up experienced users who don't require as much support.

"One of our competitors said they would leave all new users to us. We'll happily take all of those since there are many more new users out there," Evslin said. "It's also going to be difficult to take experienced users from us."