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BellSouth Speeds Toward Faster Access, But Not For Everyone

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RALEIGH — Today's digital community is all about speed. Users want to get to the Internet faster, and download quicker.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, or ADSL, promises speedy access, and some people in the Triangle are already using it.

However, many who have requestedBellSouth.net's ADSL service do not qualify even though they live in areas the company says are eligible. Ben Baker kept pushing and finally got a connection.

"Although it's generally one-third of the actual advertised bandwidth, it still is over ten times as fast as my 56k modem was," Baker said.

Phone lines and the equipment attached to those lines must have specific characteristics for BellSouth's FastAccess. The home must be close enough to the Central Office switch, and the phone line must be copper (not fiber optic) all the way to the Central Office.

BellSouth says it hopes to make ADSL available to more users.

"The technologies that are coming that BellSouth will use in later rollouts will be able to work on fiber," says Kathy Hawkins with BellSouth.

The FastAccess Internet site spells out possible problems. BellSouth says it will notify users when ADSL is available in their area. The company says thousands in the Triangle have signed up for ADSL, but will have to wait for technology to catch up.

"People want things faster. They want it immediately," Hawkins said. "Of course we're working to improve the numbers that can get it, at least we are here."

BellSouth is not the only company advertising a faster connection.GTEoffersDigital Subscriber Lineservice in Durham and Time Warner's cable modems may show up within the year.

Cost for BellSouth.net's FastAccessis $50 a month, if users have BellSouth Complete Choice services. It is $60 a month if they do not. There is also a $300 installation charge.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Lynn French, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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