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NorthPoint Secures Line-Sharing Deals

NorthPoint Communications Group Inc. Tuesday announced that it successfully secured operational line-sharing agreements with all major incumbent local exchange carriers in the U.S.

NorthPoint's line-sharing agreements with Bell Atlantic Corp. , SBC Communications Inc. and its subsidiaries, Bell South Corp., GTE Corp., Sprint Corp., and U S West Inc. will provide lower rates for shared local loops.

As a result of the line-sharing agreements NorthPoint's average cost for shared loops will be less than half the price of current stand-alone loops. The deals stand as a breakthrough in the digital subscriber line provider's ability to deliver broadband communications to U.S. consumers.

Liz Fetter, NorthPoint president and chief executive officer, said line sharing would make DSL-based broadband services more affordable and available to millions of American consumers.

"Combined with NorthPoint's aggressive deployment of g.lite technology and its alliance with RadioShack Corp. and MSN, NorthPoint is ideally positioned to take advantage of this major milestone," Fetter said.

NorthPoint struck alliances with RadioShack and Microsoft Corp. branded MSN Internet access to distribute NorthPoint DSL high-speed access. NorthPoint and RadioShack this month intend to launch service in selected Dallas and San Francisco stores and will expand service availability to other markets throughout the year.

Leonard Roberts, RadioShack chairman, president and chief executive officer, said with NorthPoint, it would make it easy for consumers to sample and order DSL access.

"Line sharing will make the benefits of broadband available to more American consumers and will play a major role in unlocking the huge potential of the Internet," Roberts said.

Line sharing enables competitive carriers like NorthPoint to offer DSL service over the same line used by incumbent carriers to deliver voice service. Prior to line sharing, competitive DSL providers were forced to purchase costly stand-alone lines to deliver DSL services.

In November 1999, the Federal Communications Commission ordered incumbent local exchange carriers to permit line sharing to end their arbitrary advantage and to give competitive service providers access to residential lines. The FCC's order takes effect today, when all ILECs are required to have line-sharing agreements in place.

Gaining access to shared lines in the delivery of DSL services should open the floodgates for vibrant competition in the residential DSL market.

In addition to operating cost benefits, line sharing significantly simplifies the DSL provisioning process, making it faster and easier for consumers to access high-speed DSL services.

Through the use of splitterless self-installed DSL modems, broadband access is easier for consumers to set up in less than 10 days. NorthPoint provides a self-install instruction kit that does not require the assistance of a trained field technician to install DLS service.

Currently, NorthPoint is utilizing line sharing for service in seven markets, including New York and San Francisco. Beginning in the third quarter, the company will offer residential DSL service in all of its U.S. markets.