Microsoft, Qwest buddy on MSN Internet Access

Microsoft and Qwest Communications International forged a pact in which Qwest will sell MSN Internet Access and Microsoft will buy Qwest services, Microsoft said on Thursday.

Qwest will market Microsoft's Internet service provider (ISP) brand MSN Internet Access in the U.S. in its 14-state local service area with more than 12 million consumer homes. Beginning mid-2001 the existing 500,000 subscribers to Qwest's Internet service Qwest.net will get MSN Internet Access, according to a Microsoft statement.

Qwest will promote its services on Microsoft's large network of sites, including news Web site MSNBC.com, Web portal MSN.com, and small-business portal bCentral.com. Microsoft's MSN unit will purchase connectivity as well as billing and collection services from Qwest, Microsoft said.

Qwest.net offers conventional dial-up Internet access as well as high speed DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) access. Outside its local service area Qwest will market MSN Internet Access alone, or in combination with Qwest products, Microsoft said.

The deal was struck for a period of five years, Microsoft said. Both companies have had an ongoing relationship. In late 1998 Qwest and Microsoft formed an alliance to provide services, such as Web site hosting, to business customers.

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