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Byline: Kirk Ladendorf
Aug. 14--In the speed-happy world of Internet access, a faster connection to the Net typically means a higher usage bill every month. Speed doesn't kill, but it does cost.
Yet a California company wants to change that cost-to-speed relationship for Austin Internet users with high-speed service that is free -- sort of.
Winfire Inc. has found a marketing gimmick that is sure to catch attention -- high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) access for free. But there are conditions. Among the biggest: Part of customers' computer screens will be taken up by ads that Winfire will sell to other companies.
The startup's "FreeDSL" service has attracted hundreds of thousands of would-be customers who have signed up for service and a much smaller number who have actually been hooked up.
The Newport Beach, Calif., company began …