City National Bank of Charleston, W.Va., is bolstering its Internet services through a multimillion-dollar telecommunications agreement with Bell Atlantic.

Besides Internet banking, $2.8 billion-asset City National offers Internet access and Web-hosting services through its CityNet division. The unit was created when the bank bought a Charleston Internet service provider and Web site development firm in 1998.

Bell Atlantic's data solutions group will provide Internet access to customers of CityNet, which is the largest Internet service provider in West Virginia, with 13,000 users, according to Matthew Call, executive vice president of City Holding Co. The company's bank subsidiary has added 2,000 Internet access accounts a month since it bought the Internet company.

"The infrastructure was not built to maintain growth, and so CityNet looked for a partner," said Phil Hudson, sales manager for Bell Atlantic in West Virginia.

The deal with Bell Atlantic-the price of which was not disclosed-gives the bank "more functionality, faster speed, and a toll-free access number- things we could not provide to our customers," Mr. Call said.

City National offers deposit customers a price break for Internet access. Its 260,000 deposit customers are eligible to pay $12.95 a month for unlimited Internet access through CityNet; others pay $16.95.

The bank also is marketing CityNet's hosting and Web development to its 25,000 commercial checking account customers.

Though Bell Atlantic is responsible for technical support of the bank's Internet services, City National handles customer service, sales, billing, and help-desk questions.

"We're giving the bank ownership of its customers," Mr. Hudson said.

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