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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Verizon Web users to lose free features

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Subscribers of Verizon Hawaii's digital high-speed Internet service will lose free firewall and virus protection services on May 15, unless they register for the service.

MSN Premium, which now is provided free of charge, will remain free for another six months to those who register, after which regular monthly charges of $9.95 a month will apply. Notice of the change was e-mailed to Verizon Hawaii DSL customers last week. It comes as part of the transition in ownership of Hawai'i's main phone company to Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group.

The $1.6 billion deal is expected to close in early May when Verizon Hawaii will be renamed Hawaiian Telcom.

At least one Verizon DSL subscriber isn't happy with the pending loss of the free service, which includes benefits such as increased e-mail storage, MacAfee Anti-Virus protection, MSN Parental Controls, MSN Encarta Premium and other services.

"I'm really upset a big company like this comes and buys it and takes away something they've been providing, and it costs me money," said Peter Goodbody, a Verizon DSL subscriber in Honolulu. "I don't think Verizon is being fair with us.

"It's certainly going to cost me money."

Verizon Hawaii said the change was necessitated by the sale. MSN Premium is currently offered via an exclusive deal between MSN and Verizon Communications, said Verizon Hawaii spokeswoman Ann Nishida.

Carlyle officials were unavailable for comment on the issue yesterday.

Among other changes occurring because of the sale of Verizon Hawaii:

• Starting April 30 customers of both Verizon Hawaii and Verizon Wireless no longer will be able to pay for both services on one bill.

• Starting this month Verizon Hawaii customers are no longer able to pay their phone bills at Verizon's Web site.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8093.