Microsoft invests in DSL provider

When NorthPoint Communications goes public in a few weeks, Microsoft will make a $US30 million investment in the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) provider, according to officials from the two companies.

As part of the union, Microsoft also may buy approximately 100,000 DSL lines from the company during the next two years, officials said.

Microsoft and NorthPoint will build a co-branded Microsoft Network (MSN) portal page for some 85 ISP (Internet service provider) partners. They also will work on high-speed Internet programs for businesses, and will collaborate on a standards-based content delivery interface aimed at solving broadband issues regarding applications.

"Our work with NorthPoint on the analysis of end-user broadband requirements and on the specification of a content-delivery interface will make these new services even more applicable and accessible to consumers and businesses of all sizes," said Thomas Koll, vice president of Microsoft's Internet Customer Unit.

The deal is Microsoft's second DSL investment the past month.

The software giant announced a $30 million stake in Rhythms NetConnections, a competitor to NorthPoint, on March 17. That deal also calls for a co-branded MSN portal.

In NorthPoint's IPO (initial public offering) expected the first week of May, the company will offer 13 million shares at about $16.50 each. The San Francisco-based DSL provider now offers service in 17 markets, encompassing 36 cities, and plans to expand to 28 markets, with 68 cities, by the end of the year.

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