CenturyTel acquires equity in DishnetDSL

CenturyTel Inc. has acquired an equity position in DishnetDSL

Limited, of Madras, India. CenturyTel has made a $22.9 million equity

investment to acquire 6.67 percent ownership of the venture and will have

one representative on the company's board of directors.

DishnetDSL, launched in March 1998, has provided Internet service

in India under the brand name ETH. The company provides Internet

services through dial-up, integrated services digital network (ISDN), and

digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies. DishnetDSL is contracting with

commercial building owners, hotels, condo and apartment buildings for

long-term usage of internal copper wiring for DSL access.

The company was licensed as an all-India Internet Service

Provider (ISP) in December 1998. It provides Internet services in larger

cities throughout the country, and was serving 18,000 subscribers in 16 cities

at year-end 1999. It plans to expand those services to more than 44

cities throughout India by the end of the first quarter, 2000. The company

intends to extend its offering of DSL-based broadband access throughout

the country later this year.

DSL is a modem-based, high-speed data delivery technology

that should ultimately provide cost-effective networking capabilities to

residential areas and business users, both large and small, with speeds up to ten

times that of conventional dial-up Internet connections. This is particularly

important in India due to the limited availability of dial-up Internet

access facilities.

CenturyTel Inc. provides integrated communications services

including local exchange, wireless, long distance, Internet access and

security monitoring services to more than two million customers in 20 states.

The company, headquartered in Monroe, La., is publicly traded on the New

York Stock Exchange under the symbol CTL. CentruyTel is the seventh

largest local exchange telephone company, based on access lines, and

the ninth largest cellular company, based on population equivalents owned,

in the United States.

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