MCI, Progressive link for ‘Net

WASHINGTON — MCI and Progressive Networks have entered an Internet alliance that the companies say will greatly enhance the Internet’s ability to deliver audio and video.

The companies are targeting the new “RealNetwork” service at broadcasters, cablers and others who want to use the Internet to expand their reach. The new service will have the ability to handle 50,000 individual users at one time, according to Progressive executives.

The deal will allow Progressive to ride MCI’s fiber-optic network to deliver video and audio via the Internet. Progressive is a leader in software that allows computer users to send and receive sound and moving pictures. Among its current clients are ABCNews.com., ESPN SportsZone and the Home and Garden Network.

The deal is expected to be formally announced today.

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