Virgin today becomes the latest Internet Service Provider (ISP) when Virgin.Net is switched on - and the company wants to be taken seriously.
Alex Dale, publisher at Virgin.Net told PC Week that the philosophy behind the new service was: "To put together a suite of applications and content aimed at making the Internet easy for UK users."
The new service has been set up to reflect the view that the Net should be seen for its practical purposes, not as a plaything. "If you want to have fun, you go to a pub,' said Dale.
On the hardware front, Virgin.Net is using Sun UltraSparc servers running Solaris 2.1. Dial-up access is provided using virtual points of presence which use a 0645 number to allow subscribers to dial into the service from anywhere in the UK for the price of a local call.
Virgin.Net claims it is one of the first ISPs to use US Robotics' recently introduced X2 modems, which provide Internet connections of up to 56Kbps.
Powering the Web service side of the business is Oracle Web Server 2.1 used in conjunction with BroadVision 1.1 to allow Web pages to be delivered on the fly.
Ivan Izikowitz, technical director at Virgin.Net, said that all data on the Virgin.Net Web was being stored in an Oracle Universal Server database.
"We will be delivering a personalised service (to our subscribers)," he explained.
"Users will have their own personal profiles."
Izikowitz went on to explain that the Oracle Web Server offered custom cartridges which were similar in concept to Netscape's NSAPI "but can do a whole lot more".
Subscription to Virgin.Net is u10 per month. The service includes a CD-ROM containing Netscape Navigator for the PC with Java, RealAudio and ShockWave plug-ins pre-installed. The Virgin.Net CD-ROM also includes a copy of Quarterdeck's Global Chat customised for Virgin and CyberSitter for filtering undesirable Web material like porn. A Macintosh client is expected in December.
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