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The push to wire Buffalo office buildings with high-speed Internet lines has hit a snag.

Nex-i, a New Jersey-based Internet service, recently disbanded its Buffalo sales effort and halted installations, customers said, putting connections for four downtown "smart buildings" on hold.

The Internet on-ramp company has an agreement to supply network connections and high-speed data service throughout the Rand Building and three other downtown office buildings operated by Main Seneca Corp.

David Sweet, owner of the real estate company, said he believes Nex-i has put sales on hold pending a possible sale of the company.

"They're still providing service . . . they have not defaulted on their agreements with existing customers," he said.

Nex-i was to extend a data line vertically through each Main Seneca building, Sweet said. It would split lateral connections off the main line as tenants signed up for service.

The Internet provider halted its installation of service for Rand Capital Corp. in late January, chief financial officer Dan Penberthy said.

"They were half-way through the installation" when work halted, he said. Rand's Web site is hosted by Nex-i, but the company must use a different provider to connect to the Internet and retrieve e-mail, he said.

Nex-i representatives could not be reached at their Princeton, N.J. headquarters. A receptionist said that Nex-i -- a play on "nexus" -- is restructuring and no one was available to comment. The company's Buffalo number is disconnected.

Nex-i wires buildings for local computer networks as well as Internet access, aiming at the East Coast small-business market. It received a $22 million investment in August from backers led by LLR Equity Partners in Philadelphia.

Other start-up telecommunications companies are teetering as investors freeze their capital. In December, Digital Broadband Communications shut off its Internet service in Buffalo and other cities, citing a funding shortfall.

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