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October 29, 1995

Local service makes house
calls for Internet

By Timothy C. Barmann

A local Internet provider is trying to making it easier than ever to connect to the world-wide network of computer networks.

Log on America of Providence (453-6100) will send a technician to your house or business to install and configure the software necessary to link your computer to the Internet. You must sign up for at least two months of service from the company, which is about $20 a month for 80 hours of access.

"I found that many customers were finding it very difficult to install their web browsing software on home and office computers," said David Paolo, president of the company. "They would get frustrated and quit before they even get started."

The company will install software on Macintosh and Windows-based computers.

Paolo may have something here. Installing Internet-access software has been notoriously tricky and time consuming for the average computer user. A Times-Mirror survey published two weeks ago suggests the frustration factor may be one reason why some people have been put off from going on line.

Many other local providers are also realizing that most who now sign up for Internet access aren't the wireheads that used to rule the Net. Many give new subscribers disks that are pre-configured and make signing on as easy as the major on-line services have made it. Log On America, though, appears to be the first to make house calls.

Three and counting

The company's efforts are coming just in time for new competition in the local Internet access market. Three more companies now offer service in our area and a fourth is about to. There are at least 20 local and national on- line services ready to connect you to the Internet.

Saturn Internet Corporation (617-451-9121) offers local Internet access for those who can call Johnston, where its Rhode Island dial-up line is located.

The Boston-based company, run by seven "native Rhode Islanders," began local service earlier this month. It started offering access in the Boston area in September.

E-mail and newsgroup accounts are $9.95 a month, plus a $10 setup fee. Rates for full Internet access begin at $14.95 a month for 50 hours, and go up to $39.95 a month for unlimited connect time. There is a $20 setup charge for these accounts.

Paul J. Larkin, director of operations for Saturn, said the company plans to offer seminars and on-site training for its clients on how to use the Internet.

"We want to do more than just sell someone a dial-up line and disappear," he said by e-mail. "We want to have some sort of relationship with our clients.

For more information, see Saturn's home page at http://www.saturn.net or send e-mail to celine@saturn.net.

The business market

BusinessOn of Warwick (941-9795) is aiming for the business market by offering Internet access and Web page creation.

"Our entire purpose is to provide businesses with an Internet presence and place to do business," said Scott M. Ehrenberg, company president. "We help businesses design, create and/or maintain web pages."

Rates: A "standard" access account is $15 a month for 30 hours of connect time. Additional hours are 25 cents. Unlimited dial-up access is $30 per month. There are no set-up fees.

BusinessOn, which provides access to Warwick and surrounding areas, offers several connection options, including dial-up lines for modems (up to 28.8Kbps) and ISDN service.

For Web page quotes and more information, send e-mail to Scott@BusinessOn.com or see the company's home page at http://www.BusinessOn.Com/.

RIconneCT gets ready

JPS Online Systems of Westerly (596-7341) has added five lines to its bulletin board system, RIconneCT, and plans to offer full Internet service next month.

Its new lines will expand local access to much of the South County area, as well as southeastern Connecticut.

For rates and more information, contact John P. Sulima at the above number or by e-mail at

jsulima@brainiac.com or john.sulima@riconnect.com.

The Newport area

International Discount Communications, or IDT, of Hackensack, New Jersey (800-245-8000) offers local Internet access to Newport and surrounding communities.

The company, which began offering access in the first quarter of 1994, has 272 "points of presence" or cities with a local access number across 40 states, as of last month. Company spokesman Jeff Parness said IDT is signing up nearly 1,000 customers a day.

Rates for full, unlimited Internet access are $29 for 1 month, $145 for 6 months and $261 for one year. There are no set-up fees.

Technical support is available by a toll call to the New Jersey firm.

New local Web sites

*The Medicine Wheel is a Web page created to give doctors a new place to advertise, and give patients a new way to find a doctor.

The site

(http://www.medwheel.com/) was set up by New England Business Web of East Providence (434-5310). It hopes to appeal to patients moving to this region from another state, college students away from home, people without a primary physician and even vacationers, according to a news release.

Users can click on the southern New England city where they are looking for doctors. Then another screen is displayed showing the "medicine wheel," a round platter that has a circular listing of medical specialties. Click on one of the specialties and a home page of a particular doctor is displayed.

While the site has been creatively executed with attractive graphics in a Native American motif, it puts design before function. It is needlessly time- consuming for modem users who must first download several large graphics in order to get to text-based information about the doctors who are on the Web site

The site is brand new, so certainly improvements are in the works. It's an interesting idea and certainly worth a look.

*Providence radio station B101 has a home page

(http://www.b101.com/) that gives information about the current station promotions, on-air features and thumbnail pictures of its disc jockies. WRX Radio has also gone electronic and is expected to be on line (http:// www.wrx.com/) by the time you read this.

Computer calendar

Wednesday - The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration are holding a seminar called "Doing Business On the Internet." It's from 4 to 7 p.m. at the downtown Providence campus of Roger Williams University on 150 Washington St. Parking is available at Majestic Parking. Internet security and firewall services will be among the topics discussed. For more information or to sign up, call Sandy Seltzer at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce at 521-5000. Cost: $25.

Timothy C. Barmann is a Journal-Bulletin staff photographer. His column runs every other Sunday on the On Line page. Send him comments via e-mail at tim@cybertalk.com or U.S. mail, c/o the Journal-Bulletin, 75 Fountain St., Providence, R.I. 02902.