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Prodigy Plans Aggressive Network Upgrade

Over the next 100 days Prodigy Communications Corp. plans to double its network capacity to meet increased demands for its dial-up Internet access.

Bill Kirkner, Prodigy (PRGY) chief technology officer, attributed the need for the upgrade to both new and acquired subscribers.

"Our number one priority is our members' online experience," Kirkner said. "Our plans are to increase dial-up capacity by one-third in the next two to three weeks alone. The member growth we've seen over the last two months requires an accelerated capacity plan to match our additional growth trajectory."

In August, Prodigy reported a 20 percent increase of new subscribers during a time when summertime registration is typically diminished. Many of the 120,000 new Prodigy members subscribed as a result of successful distribution deals the company made with conventional hardware retailers like Best Buy Co.

The growth is over and above the currently migrating Prodigy Classic customer base, the recent acquisition of Cable & Wireless dial-up customers and Prodigy's management of the largest ISP in Mexico, Prodigy de Telmex.

Prodigy also added another 80,000 subscribers when it acquired the customer based of BizOnThe.Net. Cumulatively, the national ISP has successfully added 205,000 subscribers to their reported second quarter 613,000 customer base. As a result of the growth swell, Prodigy's plan to add network capacity goes well beyond their normal day-to-day expansion efforts.

The planned increases would support a subscriber base considerably larger than Prodigy's current 818,000 members. In addition to the network expansion, system upgrade plans include adding more local access lines to expand Prodigy's service area.

Prodigy also plans to increase its online and 800-number technical support staff to provide maximum support availability to the burgeoning member base.

While Prodigy network monitoring and testing reports that 95 percent of Prodigy's Internet access calls are successfully completed on the first attempt, some areas of the country have encountered heavier log-on traffic due to faster-than-normal growth. The network upgrade plan will provide increased access volume in these traffic-intense regions as well.



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