AT&T announces broadband biz services

AT&T steps up its plans for rolling out next-generation Net access services.

AT&T on Wednesday announced plans to launch a suite of broadband business services and open 500 wireless shops in the US during the next three years.

AT&T's broadband services will include both digital subscriber line and cable offerings. AT&T said it will begin trials of hybrid-fiber coaxial cable Internet services in the fourth quarter of this year.

AT&T will begin testing its cable offering in the fourth quarter as well. The service will initially be available in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. AT&T said it plans to offer the service nationally in the first half of 2000.

DSL service will be available in 17 markets starting Wednesday and will expand to more than 100 markets by the fourth quarter of 2000. The DSL service will be available in single and multiple user plans. Multi-user plans will cost between $149 to $469 per month, with an additional $50 per month charge for ongoing support services.

On the consumer side, AT&T said it will open 400 to 500 wireless shops over the next two to three years. AT&T is working with CB Richard Ellis, a national real estate services firm, to open the stores.

Separately, newspapers reported Wednesday that AT&T could cut thousands of jobs in its long distance division before the end of the year. Last year, the company cut back its work force by 14 percent, but AT&T is being forced to cut costs in the wake of several major acquisitions.