The Microsoft Network (MSN) will boost its modem pool by 500% by the end of the year and add new local dialup numbers in 50 new cities. MSN expects these improvements to yield a 10-to-1 user-to-modem ratio, eliminating busy signals at the third-largest online service.

"People should be able to get in even in peek hours," said Jessica Ostrow, MSN's product marketing manager.

MSN customers can download a new phone book that includes dual dial-over numbers. If the first number they try is busy, they can try another number to connect instead.

These plans hint at a major subscriber push rumored for the Christmas season