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AT&T Expands Broadband Battle

Charging into the bundled broadband fray with Verizon and others, AT&T is rolling out service in four additional states -- Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia.

The carrier first offered high-speed Internet, paired with local and long distance phone service, in New York this summer and hopes to test or market the service in 35 states by year's end.

"We've been delighted with the results so far in New York and are excited to deliver the same benefits to customers in (the four new states)" said Ray Solnik, a vice president in AT&T's consumer division.

AT&T can offer residential broadband without extra overhead thanks to an outsourcing deal with DSL specialist Covad that runs through September 2005.

Today's announcement is accompanied by promotional offers. Standard DSL service costs $19.95 a month for the first three months and $39.95 a month thereafter. The premium DSL plan (which AT&T says is faster) runs $29.95 a month for the first three months and $49.95 a month after that. Both include a free installation kit and tech support.

Bundling of phone and high-speed Internet services is seen by nearly all major providers as essential to winning new subscribers and keeping existing ones. Customers like the plans because they can pay for all the services on a single bill and have a single point of contact for tech issues.

SBC , which serves 13 states in the Midwest and West, has led the bundling charge and recently upped the ante by teaming with EchoStar to add satellite TV to its offerings.

Other active players include Verizon , which was first to provide its customers with free Wi-Fi (define) access as part of their service. In fact, AT&T's New York push pits it against Verizon, which is strong in the Empire State and has its own voice and data packages.