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BEST LOCAL INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER Minneapolis 2000 - Bitstream

Preserving and promoting local ties has always been a no-brainer for Bitstream. While ominous Internet entities like AOL and MSN devise multimillion-dollar marketing schemes to create a half-baked (and sometimes eerily Orwellian) sense of community, BU is content to be a good geek neighbor, attracting rather than recruiting users by growing at its own sane, remarkably patient rate. New offerings for this year include high-speed DSL service and a custom Web-based e-mail application aimed at nomadic clients who are thoroughly addicted to access--both at competitive rates. Self-described as "a virtual clubhouse for the Net-curious as well as the digital connoisseur," Bitstreamers remain about as friendly as an ISP can be in the Y2K, nowhere near as obsessed with profit margins as with their own record collections and/or creative impulses. We'd ask for 24-hour tech support, but we know these folks, like all of us, deserve a life offline, too.

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