America Online (AOL) is taking a second stab at providing online. services to the corporate sector - a year after the previous initiative was abandoned following reliability problems.
AOL Enterprise claimed its service will enable employees to access their company network when they are out of the office. Mobile business users will also be able to dial into the AOL network through their laptop or other remote access vehicle, which will then connect them with their company's internal network.
David Gang, AOL senior vice president of business development, confirmed that AOL Enterprise was only available in the US at present, but added: 'In the next 30 days we will be talking to our business partners in Europe.'
The service will be launched in conjunction with several of the ISP's partner companies, including Lotus, Security Dynamics and Axent Technologies.
AOL hopes these alliances, together with the backbone of its partner Worldcom, will allay past fears about the reliability and security of using its online services for business purposes.
'This new service is a big need in corporate America,' said Gang. 'The security issue has come of age as corporations are looking to reduce costs while maintaining secure networks.'
In offering the service, AOL aims to maximise the network capacity that it purchases from Worldcom. Since consumer internet traffic is predominantly experienced after working hours, AOL has spare capacity available during business hours.
'We now have a huge network consisting of about 750,000 modems in the US,' said Gang. 'Prime time for consumers is in the evening, which frees up about 400,000 modems during the day. We are looking to maximise this resource.'
Gang stated that AOL was looking to enrol 250,000 corporate members over the next 12 to 18 months, although he denied this strategy would bring AOL into conflict with Compuserve - the online service AOL bought earlier this year.
'This is an enterprise solution aiming at corporate America - we are talking about Fortune 500 companies here. Thirty per cent of AOL users are business customers. There is plenty of room for both of us in this market,' he said.
AOL is launching the service on a competitive cost basis, at a flat rate of $1.50 an hour, which it claimed was half the price of some competitors.
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business