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U.S. BSPs Offer More Bandwidth

Ultrafast broadband services from phone and cable companies could speed up your downloads to 15 megabits per second or more -- A new generation of superfast broadband Internet access promises to do more than accelerate Web browsing and file downloads. Five to thirty times as fast as DSL, these new -- and surprisingly affordable --wide pipes can in some cases enable new video, voice, and data services.

Spearheading the coming bandwidth bonanza are fiber-optic services from Verizon and SBC -- and hefty bandwidth increases from competing cable providers. For customers, these offerings can immediately speed up music, photo, video, and software downloads; they could eventually enable HD-quality video on demand, custom views of live events, and other bandwidth-intensive services.

Steve Dektor is an early convert to Verizon's fiber-optic Fios service. The owner of Alliance Computer Services, a repair and maintenance business he operates out of his home in Keller, Texas, Dektor dumped his cable ISP for good last year after taking part in an early Fios trial.

"We've had the 15-mbps service, and it's just really fast," says Dektor, who frequently downloads large software service packs and application updates. "If the Verizon service is available, it's a no-brainer. The cost is comparable [to cable and DSL pricing], the speed is much higher, and the reliability has been great. I think most people who want broadband and have the Verizon service available are on it."

And there's the rub: Access to "ultra" broadband services remains limited. Verizon -- by far the most aggressive player -- has announced many high-speed fiber deployments, but actual rollouts have been slow: At press time, its Fios service had signed up fewer than 300,000 subscribers. But other services are boosting speed, if not as dramatically.

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