MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ HarvardNet, a high-speed data communications and Web-hosting company, announced Wednesday it would lay off 280 workers, or about 58 percent of its work force.

The company, which received $70 million in financing in one of the largest venture capital deals in New England last year, said it would get out of the business of providing Internet access via digital subscriber line (DSL) in order to focus on its Web-hosting service.

The company will close its 50-person Westbrook, Maine office and a one-person office in Portsmouth, N.H. Offices in Boston, New York and Philadelphia will also be cut back.

About 200 of the layoffs take effect immediately, and the remainder in January, said spokeswoman Susan Shelby.

HarvardNet's DSL business leased lines from phone companies, and installed and maintained high-speed Internet service for businesses.

Several DSL companies have announced cutbacks recently. Last week, New Haven, Conn.-based DSL.Net announced it would lay off 141 employees, just four days after Santa Clara, Calif.-based Covad Communications cut 400 jobs.