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Cable firm to offer free high-speed Internet to military families

By DEBORAH YAO
AP Business Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Starting Thursday, a Massachusetts cable and Internet service provider will offer free high-speed Internet access to immediate families of military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan for as long as their loved ones are abroad.

Atlantic Broadband will be rolling out its freebie starting in central and western Pennsylvania before going to parts of New York, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Florida.

``It was our opportunity to help the soldiers and their families who are doing so much for us,'' said Rich Shea, chief information officer of the Quincy, Mass.-based cable operator.

The company also will provide free installation, cable modem and five e-mail accounts per home. Shea said Atlantic typically charges $30 or more a month for high-speed Internet service.

Shea said Internet speeds of up to 3 megabits per second on Atlantic's network will make it easier for families to exchange photos, audio and video with loved ones overseas.

Lynn Barry, a 49-year-old Altoona carpenter who's already testing the system, said he and his wife will now try to send digital photos over the Internet to their son, Lance Cpl. Walter M. Barry, in Iraq. He said they have never tried that before because even accessing a Web site on dial-up took too long.

``It's amazing,'' he said. ``His little niece is starting to walk and we can send him pictures.''

Atlantic Broadband serves 250,000 customers in six states, 150,000 of them in Pennsylvania.




(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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