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Juno Soups Up Dial-Up

Juno Online Services this morning became the latest entrant into the enhanced dial-up service with the launch of SpeedBand.

The Westlake Village, Calif., Internet service provider, promises download times up to five times faster than standard dial-up service. It is looking to appeal to customers who want better performance but aren't willing to pay for broadband access through cable or DSL modems.

The move comes two weeks after rival EarthLink introduced its own enhanced dial-up service.

Also, NetZero, which like Juno, is owned by United Online , has a version of the service as well.

"Since dial-up continues to be the number-one way that approximately 50 million American households gain access to the Internet, we feel it is important to continue to develop new technologies . .that enhance the dial-up experience," said Mark R. Goldston, United Online's president and CEO.

SpeedBand uses compression and caching technologies to boost performance. By compressing text and graphic components before a Web page is sent to a user, loading time is cut. In addition, SpeedBand stores elements of Web sites that users visit, eliminating reloading every time a site is visited.

The product works from any phone jack using a standard dial-up connection and does not require new hardware. SpeedBand costs $14.95 per month, which includes the $9.95 per month Juno Platinum Internet service (the same as Netzero's HiSpeed).

By coparison, EarthLink Plus will sell for $28.95 per month. Most broadband connections start around $45 per month.

While United Online and EarthLink see potential in the niche, other ISPs are uninterested in creating a stop-over on the road to full broadband adoption. For example, America Online spokesman Jim Whitney recently told internetnews.com the company's focus "is on building awareness around our new broadband offering."

AOL is moving to make the most of the growth in broadband among U.S. consumers, and looking for ways to keep its huge base of 35 million dial-up subscribers with the AOL service in some fashion when and if they upgrade to high-speed providers.