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These stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 4, 1998. All rights reserved.
Telecommunications Firms in Princeton
Some of the hottest buzzwords in the telecommunications industry concern converging networks and voice-over IP (Internet Protocol), says Karen Varnas, a vice president at Lucent Technologies in Basking Ridge. "Converging networks," says Varnas, "are all about bringing customers' voice and data networks together. Voice over IP enables you to send your voice track over the same Internet networks as you send your data track. The benefit that companies see is a savings in network costs."
Varnas will speak about the technologies being developed in Holmdel and Murray Hill at the BPU Telecommunications Conference on November 6 in Iselin. (See accompanying story.) Call 973-648-6153 for information.
Varnas views technology as an enabler. "When you really look at technology, and why it is growing and why it is advancing so much, it's because it brings value into business, it helps businesses operate more effectively," Varnas says. "Multimedia messaging -- voice messaging, fax messaging and E-mail -- today can all be integrated together. It's possible today to get all of those messages from one source. It's also possible for multi-location and multinational companies to have all of their messaging systems networked together."
Such messaging, says Varnas, is a much more productive way to communicate than placing a phone call company-wide, because the communication tends to be crisper, faster and more accessible. Messaging across locations -- where you can get your voice mail, E-mail, and fax from one mailbox -- can also significantly improve white collar productivity, speed up decisions, improve your ability to be responsive to customers, and boost employee morale. Says Varnas, "It has a whole host of benefits to keep driving the business."
Networked multimedia messaging also saves money, she says. "A huge benefit of having a network of messaging systems tied together is tremendous savings in the cost of phone calls. A message network has the ability to `hop on' existing phone and computer networks. You can document cost savings that will come out of this, but the business impact I like to talk about is how it helps business operate more effectively."
As an example, Varnas cites customer service. "As technologies become more advanced, businesses can provide a significantly higher level of customer service, be more responsive to their customers, and hopefully the impact on businesses is they either grow revenues or they retain existing customers. It drives their customer loyalty up. It helps them reach their objectives, in growing revenue, reducing cost, adding customers, and creating higher levels of customer satisfaction."
"Great advances in technology are happening everyday," says Varnas, "and the growth of the power of technology is there, but what really makes it meaningful is how it is going to be applied to business and how it's going to bring benefit and value to business."
-- Jeff Lippincott
While AT&T works on new technology for broadband pipes to the home and squabbles with Bell Atlantic over landline deregulation, RCN -- the Carnegie Center-based telecommunications company -- is moving ahead on both fronts. In Boston, Manhattan, Washington D.C. and soon in California, it is selling local phone, long distance phone, cable, and Internet services over its own broadband fiber optic networks.
RCN has bypassed the deregulation squabbles because it lays its own fiberoptic networks, and because it is perhaps the only firm to sell fiberoptic connections to residential customers. "The main thing is we have our own network," says Jim Maiella, spokesman for RCN.
In New Jersey RCN does not have its own telephone lines, only its own cable lines, so it must resell Bell Atlantic service to its cable customers. "We are in the process of rebuilding, of adding fiber to our cable plant in New Jersey," says Maiella. "But in markets where we are deploying fiber optic we are starting from scratch."
RCN has topped its own expectations for installation, though it reported a net loss for the third quarter. "We are growing faster than we thought we would. We thought we would hit 800,000 customer connections in the year 2000, but here we have already passed that threshold, with 810,000 connections," says Maiella. "The vast majority of our customers take more than one service, and we are averaging two services per customer."
RCN brings one line into an apartment building and feeds phone and cable lines from the basement. For single family homes it brings cable and telephone lines from a backbone not more than 900 feet from the house.
"We are the only communications company building fiber optic for residential customers," says Maiella, "and we have roots in three industries." RCN started out as Commonwealth Communications, a telephone company in rural Pennsylvania, and when it came to Princeton to offer cable service to New Jersey, it was known as C-Tec. As it expanded it purchased these Internet service providers: Erols in Washington D.C., UltraNet and JavaNet in Massachusetts, and Interport, the largest independent service provider in New York City.
At the Lawrence Circle, 1333 Brunswick Pike, RCN has 21,000 square feet used as a 24-hour customer service "call" center and for offices for the construction team. National headquarters remain at 105 Carnegie Center, where David C. McCourt, chairman and CEO, has his office. It trades on NASDAQ as RCNC.
Tired of the bottlenecks on the Internet? GE Americom, the largest provider of satellite service into North America, is working on a way to do evade congestion on the World Wide Web. Though its core business is satellite transmission for broadcasting, it aims to use the broadband capabilities of satellite technology to work in the encapsulated Internet Protocol (IP) environment. This as-yet unannounced technology would use satellites to deliver large data files in a format that can be downloaded on the Internet.
Potential uses for IP over satellite might be multimedia applications to corporate rooftops, to ease the bottlenecks and freeing up what the satellite experts call "terrestrial bandwidth" for E-mail and searching the World Wide Web.
"Now the IT guys can send the large files over satellite and leave the T-1 network for short bursting transmissions," says Dan Dzamba, vice president of marketing for GE Americom, which has 175 employees at 4 Research Way. Dzamba majored in international economics at American University, Class of 1982, and spent 15 years at AT&T in a variety of product marketing, wireless messaging, and data positions.
"Many teams -- development, marketing, and billing -- are working on this right now, and we are growing our sales force," says Dzamba. He hopes to unveil the project in the second quarter of 1999. "We know that with the burgeoning growth of the Internet, the market is pretty sizable as a business to business application."
"Web addresses are building so much richness into their sites that it is almost impossible to view them on the desktop in the full richness intended," says Dzamba. As a result, corporations with full-motion in-house video are now overnight-mailing videotapes to farflung locations.
"That is inefficient," says Dzamba, "and the corporation loses a lot of control. Videos can get lost or broken or stolen. And it is expensive to send the Fed Exes out." With the new system, a corporation would pay the same price to send 1,000 videos as for one video.
A human resources department might, for instance, send out monthly training videos on such topics as quality, sex discrimination, benefits, expatriate regulations, or compliance. "Today they send out flyers in people's inboxes," says Dzamba.
Another application is sending large multimedia engineering catalogs, with detail-rich data. Just mailing out the existing digital catalog would be cheaper, says Dzamba, when the catalogs for an airplane weigh almost as much as the plane itself. Nevertheless, each receiver would have to provide server storage space for the entire electronic catalog, whereas an Internet-based catalog could be consulted on an as-needed basis and would require much less storage.
Content must be Internet Protocol compatible. "In some cases we are getting `plain old content' and running it through an IP encapsulator, so that at the receiving end it can be cached in a server and seen in IP video streaming on a computer," says spokesperson Monica Morgan.
"Within one footprint we can send it to thousands of locations, simultaneous with the same transmission pass, not going from point to point to point, but going from uplink to all of the receive locations, to exploit the bandwidth of the satellite," says Morgan.
The core satellite business for GE Americom (formerly RCA) is transmission support for cable, television, and radio broadcast clients, as well as for various data services, the New York Times, and federal agencies. "We want to leverage our core competency and share leadership in satellite transmission of cable broadcasting and programming to focus on the growing Internet capabilities of major corporations," says Dzamba.
-- Barbara Fox
Think of Dick Tracy's wrist watch. Long before cellular phones were available, cops and taxi drivers communicated with mobile radios. A Carnegie Center-based firm, Intek Global, aims to be a big frog in that low-spectrum pond.
Formerly known as Intek Diversified, Intek Global was founded in December, 1996. Robert Shiver, an alumnus of Morehead State, joined the firm early in 1997 as a director. When he was appointed chairman and CEO he moved Intek from Moorestown to the Carnegie Center.
At its headquarters in the United Kingdom, Intek developed proprietary narrowband technology. Linear Modulation Technologies (LMT) are "spectrum-efficient" because they can generate up to a six-fold increase in radio spectrum capacity, which surpasses FCC mandates for the year 2005.
One of its manufacturing divisions, based in the United Kingdom, is Radiocoms. Some UK-made products are distributed by another division, Kansas City-based Midland USA.
Another division, RoameR One, operates subscriber-based mobile radio (SMR) systems in the United States. Located in California, it has 1,400 channels covering 120 markets and is the dominant 220 Mhz license holder in the United States.
In February of this year Intek Global bought California-based Wireless Plus. Last month it sold the distribution division that supports European-based clients, Equipment Services Unit, which supports such clients as the British Airport Authority. Securicor Information Systems Limited paid $8 million for it but owns 62 percent of Intek; the two firms will distribute each other's products.
Meanwhile Intek spent $12.2 million to buy 181 new wireless airwave licenses in a government auction last month. It is working with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative to help build a dispatch network for 900 rural utilities. Among the licenses it bought were two of the three licenses that operate nationwide.
Intek is just emerging from a mandated quiet period, so its officers were not available for an interview. It trades as IGLC on the Nasdaq small cap market.
Learn about leading-edge interactive multimedia information systems on Wednesday, November 4, at Rutgers' Busch Campus in Piscataway, or, on a consumer-friendly level, attend the Cable Internet Revolution Road Show from Friday to Sunday, November 6 to 8, at the Livingston Mall. And a two-day E-Commerce trade show is scheduled in New Brunswick on Monday and Tuesday, November 16 and 17.
Lawrence Rablner, vice president of research at AT&T Labs, will talk about trends in multimedia communications on Wednesday, November 4, at 1:30 p.m., part of a research review hosted by the Center for Computer Aids for Industrial Productivity (CAIP) at Rutgers' CoRE building. James Flanagan, CAIP's director, will give an overview of CAIP programs, followed by demonstrations of computer technology and individual discussions with faculty members. For directions call 732-445-3343.
The Cable Internet Revolution Road Show Expo will be open at the Livingston Mall, Eisenhower Parkway and South Orange Avenue in Livingston. For information visit http://www.home.net/expo. For directions to the mall call 973-994-9390.
The show consists of a fleet of 28-foot trucks which are making the rounds of 12 cities in three months. Sponsored by Comcast, @Home Network, and Cisco Systems Inc., it offers a variety of hands-on demonstrations including cable modems by Samsung, Com21, Sony, GI, and RCA.
Bloomberg, CNNInteractive, ZDTV, Segasoft's Heat Net, CBS Sportsline, and Travelocity will showcase such options as video-on-demand, near CD-quality audio, and enhanced multiplayer games. These demos are supposed to show how the cable companies can make the Internet into a medium that is as entertaining as television but more useful to everyday needs. Actually, the cable companies hope the expo will show how future offerings are going to "drag phone connections to a mind-numbing crawl." Then we'll all have to get our Internet from cable.
E-Commerce Forum will be held on Monday and Tuesday, November 16 and 17, at the New Brunswick Hyatt. The cost is $1,095 for two days or $695 for the second day. Call 732-933-9473. On Sunday, November 15, before the forum opens, Mike Baker of the Electronic Commerce Resource Center at the University of Scranton, will teach workshops on Electronic Data Interchange. Cost: $175.
On November 16 the topics include "Web-Based Retailing: the SkyMall Success Story," by Robert Worsley, CEO of Skymall Inc. On November 17 Richard L. Moore of Lucent Direct, will speak on "The Information Imperative."
Paul Christy, deputy director of the commerce department, STAT-USA. will offer an update on the administration's E-commerce initiative.
Other topics for Tuesday are "Securing Electronic Commerce," by Warwick Ford of Advanced Technology VeriSign Inc.; "Intellectual Property and E-Commerce: What You Should Know About the Law," by Pamela L. Banner of Banner, Witkoff Ltd.; "Electronic Commerce and Its Effects on the Publishing Industry," by Mimi Jett of Interactive Composition Corporation and Robert S. Sutor, manager, Interactive Scientific Publishing, IBM.
"Securing a Competitive Advantage with Electronic Payments," is the topic for Roger Trout of Sterling Commerce. Steve Vardy of Snickelways Interactive will discuss "The Buy Button: Designing for E-Commerce," and Ron Parsons of Strategies Portfolio Commerce Net will talk about standards in E-Commerce.
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