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AT&T Corp is finally to begin offering backbone services on its own network to businesses seeking high-speed connections to the internet, entering the market many years after its competitors. AT&T says it will offer a broad range of high-speed connections to the internet and back them up with guarantees of reliability and performance. MCI Communications Corp, Sprint Corp and others have been offering high-speed internet links for years. Until now, AT&T has been reselling high-speed access to the internet through a $120m agreement it forged in 1995 with BBN Corp, which continues to host a majority of AT&T’s estimated 2,000 corporate internet customers. However, in May BBN Corp was swallowed up by local telecoms carrier GTE Corp, a move which may have lead to AT&Ts decision to take control of its data networking clients. AT&T has begun migrating those customers to its own network as it increasingly competes with BBN. AT&T’s WorldNet services says it will operate 580 points around the country where customers can establish a direct connection to the companys data network. AT&T’s new WorldNet MIS will market private line, frame relay, and integrated access where voice and data share the same T1 facility. Services will be available in a variety of speeds from 56Kbps through T1 as well as 10 Mbps and T3. AT&T also said it is conducting trials with ISDN, 56K, and cable modem access for its dial access services. Although AT&T has built up its internet-only consumer access service to be the largest in the US, it is the last of the major phone companies to enter the high-speed internet business on its own. Rival WorldCom Inc, with its UUNet division, has a network roughly twice the size of AT&Ts and 70,000 business customers. Separately, AT&T has been linked with GTE Corp in executive level talks over a possible acquisition. Reports first surfaced in USA Today earlier this week but neither AT&T nor GTE would comment on the speculation.

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CBR Staff Writer

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