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SPRINT JOINS NET RACE

By Published on .

Sprint Corp. may be the last of the big three long-distance carriers to offer a consumer Internet access product, but it's hardly far behind.

Sprint last week introduced Internet Passport, a service it will market to its 15 million-customer base. After a one-month test among 200,000 of its customers, Sprint will in October start charging $19.95 per month for unlimited use, or $1.50 per hour.

Advertising for the Internet Passport is expected to feature Sprint spokeswoman Candice Bergen. J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco, handles.

DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE COMING

Sprint is also expected to announce next month a major distribution partner for the software.

"This alliance will really open the doors for us," said Harry Campbell, assistant VP-marketing at Sprint Multimedia. "We'll be doing lots of broadscale marketing to acquire customers."

While AT&T Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. offer their own products, Sprint has focused on providing the backbone connection to other service providers.

AT&T suffered technical problems after the March launch of its WorldNet but currently boasts more than 300,000 subscribers. MCI's internetMCI has been on the market for almost two years.

"We've taken time to study the strategies employed by and problems encountered by our competitors," Mr. Campbell said. "Before launching we knew the back office had to be completely in place-customer service, billing, processing and distribution."

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