Internet service provider UUnet has launched a new high speed Net access service, as part of a major initiative to bring small companies online.
UUnet Messenger ISDN, which is to be sold exclusively through value added resellers, is aimed at the 1.6 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, many of whom have so far been excluded from fast access to the Net.
Messenger is particularly aimed at those companies that have traditionally found installing an Internet service over ISDN too complex. It is marketed primarily on ease of use, reliability and price. Users will be able to send and receive emails and large files, and surf for information while sending and receiving faxes or voice calls on the same line. Support for FTP file transfer is also available.
Support from resellers will be an essential part of the package. Martin Temple, the company's channel manager, noted that potential buyers ?run businesses, not networks,? and so demand a hassle free service, with online support from a reseller with in-depth knowledge of their specific business needs.
Product portfolio manger Mike Cole commented: "The key to Internet access for a small or medium-sized enterprise is the right level of flexibility and network performance at the right price." He also pointed out that recent reductions in ISDN pricing make this a more viable option for smaller companies.
Marketing director David Howard-Jones sees this market as set to boom, quoting third quarter figures from research company Durlacher. These state that, of the 39 per cent of UK SMEs that are connected to the Internet, 30 per cent rate email as ?crucial? and 30 per cent as ?important?.
Furthermore, the report notes that 20 per cent of UK SMEs intend to go online in the next 12 months, with a total of 81 per cent expecting to be online within the next five years.
Cole stated that Messenger would play a central role in UUnet?s strategy in the coming year. ?This is the first in an evolving range of products, and will form a platform for other ISDN services. We are already looking at alternatives," he said.
Howard-Jones emphasised the role that UUnet?s US parent company, Worldcom, plays in offering a high quality, reliable service. ?We have established a high bandwidth backbone in the UK, offering 155Mbps. In addition Worldcom and Cable & Wireless are installing a 20Gbit fibre optic cable across the Atlantic, allowing local access from 1,000 locations worldwide. It is this that makes the Internet fly.?
UUnet claims that Messenger is priced very competitively, costing #976 per year plus ISDN charges to connect up to 25 users. This, it claims, is a considerable cost saving when compared with the equivalent number of dial-up Internet access accounts or with other ISDN-Lan solutions.
However, Howard-Jones concedes that there was a specific point where a saving would be achieved. ?The cost savings involved very much depend on the individual requirements of each user,? he said.
Messenger ISDN will be available from January 1998.
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