Verizon Takes Higher-Speed DSL To 9.7 Million Homes

Verizon Communications announced that it will expand its highest-speed DSL tier -- up to 7.1 Megabits per second downstream -- to 9.7 million households in 21 states and Washington, D.C., by the end of July.

The latest expansion will increase the availability of the service in parts of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

As of the beginning of 2009, Verizon offered the 7.1 Mbps down / 768 Kbps up service to approximately 9 million households in parts of California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

With the upgrades, Verizon is attempting to shore up landline losses in territories where its FIOS network is unavailable. For the first quarter of 2009, the company reported a net loss of 46,000 DSL customers, offset by a net gain of 298,000 FiOS Internet subscribers.

Verizon is offering new customers who commit to a two-year agreement for standalone 7.1-Mbps service the ability to lock in a rate of $37.99 per month for as long as they keep the service.

Its next-fastest tier of broadband service, up to 3 Mbps down / 768 Kbps up, is available to more than 20 million households in parts of 24 states and D.C.

Separately, Verizon is in the process of selling landline assets in 14 states to Frontier Communications: Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The $5.3 billion deal is expected to take 9 to 12 months to close pending regulatory approvals.

To qualify for the 7.1-Mbps service, customers must be located within 10,000 feet -- about 1.9 miles -- from the nearest central-office facility that is provisioned to offer the copper-based service. Verizon noted that DSL speeds are based on distance between the customer's location and the telco central office, and that actual download speeds may be lower.

Verizon is currently running a promotion through June 20 offering customers a triple-play bundle of DSL, unlimited phone service and DirecTV service for $79.99 per month (with a two-year contract) plus up to $150 back in the form of a prepaid card.