Bell Atlantic offers access to Internet Firm forms subsidiary to market the service

March 09, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Bell Atlantic Corp. will begin offering at least some customers access to the Internet this summer, joining AT&T and MCI in trying to cash in on the explosive growth in computer networking.

Ginger Fisk, a Bell Atlantic spokeswoman, confirmed a report in the Washington Times that the Philadelphia-based telephone company has formed a subsidiary called Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions, with 70 employees, to market the service.

Larry Plumb, director of communications for the new subsidiary, said Bell Atlantic expects to have the service up and running in all of its major markets, including Baltimore, by the end of the year. He said the company already is running a trial with business customers in Washington.

Until MCI Communications Corp. jumped into the business last year, Internet access had been a business dominated by small, specialized companies.

On Feb. 27, AT&T announced that it too would offer unlimited Internet access for $19.95 a month, with up to five hours a month free to its long-distance customers.

Yesterday, AT&T said it had received more than 147,000 requests for software that customers will need for the service, which is scheduled to begin Thursday.

The response was greater than the company anticipated. AT&T said it will have to increase the capacity of the network it planned for the service, called WorldNet, and hire more people to answer questions about it.

Mr. Plumb said Bell Atlantic was not yet prepared to discuss its pricing structure, but he acknowledged the need to compete with AT&T. "We're going to have to reckon with their price, obviously," he said.

Mr. Plumb said the service will be available to both businesses and homes and will include software for electronic mail and navigating the World Wide Web. He did not identify which Web browser Bell Atlantic will offer.

When it introduces Internet access, Bell Atlantic will be able to offer it in conjunction with its ISDN (Integrated Services Digital lTC Network) services, which operates at about five times the speeds of the fastest conventional modem.

Pub Date: 3/09/96

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