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COMPUTING

Voice-over-Internet service provider spreads its wings

August 20, 1999
Web posted at: 1:42 p.m. EDT (1742 GMT)

by Denise Pappalardo

From...
Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- ZeroPlus.com struck two significant deals this week that will bring its voice-over-the-Internet service to more users. The company's offering is used to make calls from PC to PC over the 'Net, saving money over calls made via the public switched phone network.
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On Thursday, ZeroPlus.com, a wholly owned subsidiary of E-Net, announced that Tidalwave Internet would offer its business and consumer customers ZeroPlus.com service. The basic service is free of charge.

Tidalwave, a Chantilly, Va., regional ISP, offers Internet access services to more than 50,000 users. All of the ISP's new customers will be automatically registered to use the ZeroPlus.com service. Existing customers will also be able to take advantage of the service. Those interested will be assigned a number that's typically the same as their 10-digit telephone number with the addition of a zero in front.

ZeroPlus.com customers can use these assigned numbers to make free calls. Customers can also call standard telephone numbers by simply putting a one instead of a zero in front of the telephone number. But users will be charged extra for these calls that will be terminated on the public switched telephone network.

This fall ZeroPlus.com also plans on introducing enhanced calling features such as call forwarding, call transfer and voice-mail that will be available in a variety of service bundles, says Rob Vechi, CEO at E-Net. Customers can expect to pay $2 to $10 per month for the additional features, which will most likely include a set number of off-net calls per month, he explains.

ZeroPlus.com has two data centers, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Austin, Texas. This is where all of ZeroPlus.com's Web servers, authentication servers and E-Net's Telecom 2000 Gatekeepers are deployed. These devices are connected to the Internet via a dedicated T-1 link.

But ZeroPlus.com is expanding its network based on a deal the company announced earlier in the week with IXC Communications. ZeroPlus.com will be moving its current data centers onto IXC's nationwide OC-3 network, Vechi says. Under the agreement, ZeroPlus.com will collocate gear in IXC data centers so that, in effect, ZeroPlus.com will increase its data centers to at least eight while also significantly increasing its network capacity.

IXC will also be taking care of the hand off of all ZeroPlus.com's off-net calls from the Internet to the public switched telephone network, Vechi says.

Vechi says that IXC and ZeroPlus.com are in the midst of working out the arrangements of their pending revenue sharing deal. When the initial announcement with IXC was made, the companies indicated that they have only signed a 120-day agreement.


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