December 9, 1996 10 AM ET

ISPs are feeling the heat
Vendors strive to distinguish themselves by going beyond basics

ByTom Davey

  Now that basic Internet service has become a commodity with rock-bottom prices from hundreds of vendors, ISPs are struggling to distinguish themselves with assorted enhancements.

As a result, legions of Internet service providers offering users everything from IP-based faxing to "extranets" will descend on Internet World in New York this week.

UUNet Technologies Inc. will announce extranet services that enable companies to share information with customers and suppliers while keeping the rest of the world out of the loop. UUNet's main offering is tentatively dubbed Extranet Virtual Private Network.

Another new service, currently called Extranet Remote Access, will allow remote workers to log on to the corporate network without needing large modem banks.

PSINet Inc., of Herndon, Va., will offer more data storage for the same price on its World Wide Web hosting service. Effective now, the $99-per-month flat rate will include 10M bytes of storage--up from 5M bytes. Additional storage will be $10 per megabyte.

"Their pricing structure is better," said Eric Madeson, network manager for Acclaim Entertainment, in Glen Cove, N.Y. "We already had their T-1 [service] to the Internet and recently signed on with PSIWeb, which does just about whatever you want."

Other ISPs introducing products at the show include:

  • GTE Corp., of Stamford, Conn., will announce upgrades to its SuperPages online business directory, including maps to make advertisers easier to find. An improved search engine will be available by midmonth.
  • GTE also will discuss plans to expand the number of local access points for its Internet service from the current 352 to more than 400 during the first quarter of 1997.
  • Genuity Inc., a San Francisco-based ISP, will announce a new network access point in Phoenix, designed to reduce Internet congestion by rerouting traffic and to eliminate downtime with redundant features. The operation will begin service this month.
  • NetCentric Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., will announce software that allows ISPs to expand their Internet faxing services. POPware 1.1, which resides on the ISP's server, will allow customers to send Internet faxes from fax machines--rather than just PCs--through the use of a $59 programmable dialer. The software also will give users a Web-based mailbox that connects to a phone number for fax retrieval.
  • Best Internet Communications Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., will show off a new tool to create Interactive catalogs. Best's hosting service, including the catalog feature , will cost $395 per month with a $500 setup fee.

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