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Qwest Rolls Out Faster DSL in Dozens of Markets

Qwest Communications International Inc. on Thursday introduced DSL plans with faster download speeds, including one that is the fastest DSL service from a major U.S. phone company.

Qwest is charging $104.99 per month for a download speed of 20 megabits per second. For 12 mbps, it is charging $51.99 per month. The prices are $5 lower when combined with local phone service.

The plans will be available in 23 of Qwest's top markets, the company said. By the end of the year, they will be available to 2 million customers.

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Download speeds on DSL, or Digital Subscriber Lines, from other companies generally top out at 10 or 12 megabits per second.

Like Qwest's plans, those speeds are only available in some areas, where the local phone company has drawn optical fiber closer to homes to shorten the distance the signal is carried by copper phone lines.

Qwest said it is committed to spending up to $300 million to upgrade its network by drawing fiber into neighborhoods.

AT&T Inc. is putting billions of dollars into a similar upgrade, which it is using to provide TV service over phone lines.

Verizon Communications Inc. has chosen a different route, drawing fiber all the way to customers' homes. While its fastest DSL service provides 7 mbps downloads, its fiber Internet service clocks in at 50 mbps.

Cable companies also have been boosting their speeds. Earlier this month, Comcast Corp. introduced 50 mbps service for $150 per month in Minnesota's Twin Cities region, where Qwest is the dominant phone company.

A check on Qwest's Web site indicated that the 12 and 20 megabit services are available in Minneapolis.