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Broadband Internet subscriptions jump

Lines rise 33% in '05 as DSL gains on cable service

WASHINGTON -- Subscriptions to US high-speed Internet services rose 33 percent last year, with telephone companies' digital subscriber lines gaining ground on cable-modem connections.

The number of broadband lines jumped to 50.2 million at year-end from 37.9 million a year earlier, the Federal Communications Commission said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The most common type of DSL service increased by 5.7 million lines, besting cable modems' 4.2 million additions for the first time, the FCC said. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., the two biggest US telephone companies, also are building fiber-optic networks to capture demand for entertainment that requires faster Internet access.

Residential customers comprise 85 percent of high-speed subscriptions, the FCC said. Cable companies provide 57.5 percent of those lines, while phone companies' DSL lines make up 40.8 percent and fiber-optic connections account for 0.5 percent.

AT&T and Verizon are spending billions of dollars to deliver advanced services such as Internet-based television.

They are pushing for federal rules that would make it easier for them to sell services that compete with cable TV companies including Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc., the two largest in the United States.

Shares of San Antonio-based AT&T rose 55 cents to $29.50 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. New York-based Verizon shares rose 50 cents to $33.43.

New York-based Time Warner Inc., the world's biggest media company, fell 14 cents to 16.13. Class A shares of Philadelphia-based Comcast fell 7 cents to $32.52 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading.

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