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Verizon, Yahoo Make Portal Play

Verizon Communications and Yahoo have reached an agreement to provide a co-branded portal to the carrier's broadband customers, the companies announced Monday.

The pact comes two months after SBC Communications extended its successful relationship with Yahoo and is aimed at luring high-speed Internet customers from cable operators, such as Comcast .

The Verizon-Yahoo service will be free to new DSL and fiber-to-the-premises subscribers this summer.

Current customers can switch from Microsoft's MSN, which was previously Verizon's portal preference. At the end of the third quarter, Verizon tallied 3.3 million broadband users.

"We have an existing agreement with [MSN] and continue to offer MSN premium service for our customers," Bobbi Henson, a Verizon spokeswoman, told internetnews.com. "We're offering customers a choice."

Yahoo will receive monthly per-subscriber fees, while Verizon will take a percentage of premium services, search and ad revenue. Henson said the partnership was a "multi-year deal" but declined to disclose any more specifics.

From a usage standpoint, the portal will feature single sign-on, customizable browsing, a homepage that can be personalized, as well as spam protection and 2GB of storage for Verizon e-mail accounts. Multimedia tools such as a radio station, music video catalog and other content will also be offered.

For its part, MSN said it still has a "strong relationship with Verizon and other service providers.

"We continue to invest in broadband services for consumers and are committed to work with Verizon, Qwest, Bell Canada and other broadband partners to deliver market leading services to our collective customers," Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN communication services, said. "Choice for consumers is a good thing and MSN Premium will remain a choice for Verizon customers."