Netscape enlists Bells to bundle browser

Netscape has wooed five regional Bell telephone companies into providing Netscape Navigator as the default Web browser to customers of their Internet services.

Netscape has wooed five regional Bell telephone companies into providing Netscape Navigator as the default Web browser to customers of their Internet services.

The Internet services divisions of Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Pacific Bell, and SBC Communications have struck deals with Netscape to license Navigator and to make it the default choice for viewing the World Wide Web using their services.

The deals also call for Netscape to include these five companies in ISP Select, a service on Netscape's Internet site that walks users through the process of choosing an Internet service provider (ISP) and setting up a personal account, officials said.

The agreements appear to be Netscape's reaction to the recent spate of similar agreements that competitor Microsoft has signed with ISPs to position its Internet Explorer as their default browser.

Rival Microsoft also has deals with telephone companies and online service providers - including AT&T, MCI, CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy, which are bundling its Internet Explorer with their services. Although Netscape still owns the lion's share of the Web browser market, Zona Research, in Mountain View, California, said Explorer has now increased its share from 4 percent in May to 8 percent.

Netscape Communications Corp., in Mountain View, California, is at http://www.netscape.com/.

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