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Prodigy, SBC Seal DSL Pact

Prodigy Internet members have stepped into the lead in a race to connect through high-speed Digital Subscriber Line access.

Prodigy Communications Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. have signed an agreement to provide DSL service to Prodigy Internet customers.

The agreement will enable Prodigy (PRGY) customers to gain access to the Internet at speeds up to 200 times faster than standard modems in markets where SBC (SBC) provides DSL access.

Bill Kirkner, Prodigy's chief technology officer, said the agreement comes on the heels of last month's successful deployment of Prodigy DSL service to New York City and starts to fulfill the service provider's commitment to offer DSL access nationwide.

"This partnership with SBC delivers on our promise to give Prodigy members the quality Internet experience they want from any type of device, over any kind of network," Kirkner said. "SBC offers Prodigy a tremendous infrastructure to help put DSL in every home possible."

Prodigy plans to offer the SBC DSL service as a premium upgrade for Prodigy members during the fourth quarter of this year. Earlier this year, Prodigy and Bell Atlantic teamed up to offer DSL service to Prodigy subscribers in the telco's service area.

James D. Gallemore, SBC executive vice president of strategic marketing and planning, said Prodigy customers will enjoy a new way to cruise the Internet.

"DSL will revolutionize the way people use the Internet," Gallemore said. "SBC is making it easy for Prodigy to offer its members an enhanced Internet experience, faster e-mail, faster downloads and even video conference capabilities."

In October, SBC Communications announced that the company intends to transform itself into the largest single broadband service provider in the U.S. over the next three years.

Dubbed the Project Pronto, the $6 billion initiative is SBC's first effort to utilize the resources gained from their recent acquisition of Ameritech.

Project Pronto is a plan to provide an estimated 77 million clients Digital Subscriber Line services through SBC's Ameritech, Nevada Bell, Pacific Bell, SNET and Southwestern Bell facilities.

The SBC 30-market DSL initiative is scheduled to push their way into Boston, Seattle and Miami within 12 months. The company already has received regulatory approval from the state commissions in Massachusetts, Washington and Florida to deploy DSL services.