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High-speed Internet comes to Valley

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY _ Valley Internet users will soon be able

to access the Web 10 times faster than with traditional dial-up service.

Local phone company CenturyTel, is offering digital subscriber lines,

or DSL, the latest in high-speed internet technology. The service is available

to most Valley residences and businesses.

The service allows customers to use the phone while surfing the Net

at the same time, allowing for constant online access. With the speed of

DSL, subscribers can download data at a fraction of the time it takes with a

28- or 56-kilobaud modem.

"As we go forward, and more and more people use the Internet, speed

is a concern," said Joe Settle, area district manager for CenturyTel.

He explained that DSL is worthwhile for people who frequently

use the Internet or those who want to speed up the time-consuming process

of downloading files, which can sometimes take hours when using the

regular dial-up service. Businesses can also benefit from the service because of

the speed and the constant online connection.

Residences and businesses within 18,000 feet of a telephone

switching center are eligible for the service,

with a few exceptions. The service area includes the cities of Snoqualmie,

North Bend, Carnation, Preston and Fall City, as well as, the Ames

Lake, Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie Ridge Business Park, Echo Glen,

Wilderness Rim, Riverbend, Seattle East and Snoqualmie Pass areas.

Settle said the service costs a bit more than dial-up service, but it

is about the same price as adding an additional phone line. There is a

fixed monthly fee for service, with no per-minute charge, although a

one-time modem fee does apply.

Settle said there are at least 15 to 20 different packages for DSL

installation. The basic plan — $39.95 —

is for two years and comes with CenturyTel or Northwest Link as

the Internet provider.

If customers want to continue service with another Internet

provider, such as America Online, they can do so at varying prices.

CenturyTel is offering a promotional special of a $99 modem,

which Settle said normally costs around $200. The special is good

through Dec. 31. He added that CenturyTel's DSL service costs approximately

60 to 80 percent less than other high-speed Internet connections.

In addition, the service comes with 24-hour technical support at

no charge. Installation is easy and involves a software disc that comes

with instructions, Settle said.

"We have tried to make it as foolproof as we can, but (for) anyone

who runs into problems, we have the 24/7 customer service," he added.

Additional computers and other equipment that utilizes phone

lines, such as fax machines, may be hooked up to DSL service at an extra

cost. Customers do not need to purchase an additional phone line to get DSL

because its technology uses existing phone lines.

In addition to telephone and DSL service, CenturyTel offers data

services, consulting and equipment for data products, PBX key systems

for small and large businesses and long-distance telephone service.

"We're not just your phone company any more, but a one-stop

shop for data, telephone and problem-solving services," said Tim Grigar,

vice president of CenturyTel's Washington division, at a recent Upper

Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Another service that CenturyTel is working on is an Internet

community portal.

"(It would be) like a Web site for the whole Valley, and off of that

Web site would be hot-links for businesses, schools and organizations," Settle

said. He added that information such as school lunch menus, city

council meeting updates, little-league game calendars, community events and

retail business specials or sales could be included on the portal site.

Settle will work with city officials and community members to get

the portal set up, if interest is expressed in the service.

While all areas of the Valley currently do not have access to

DSL, Settle expects service to be available within 12 to 18 months for homes

and businesses located outside of the 18,000-foot boundary.

Potential customers who would like to find out if they are in DSL

territory, or who want to sign up for the service, can dial 811 on their phone.

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