Sprint today announced plans for a phased rollout of its consumer Internet access service, Sprint Internet Passport.
Sprint is the leading provider of Internet online services to U.S. businesses and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and today's announcement is a major step toward making the world's largest and most powerful Internet capability directly available to the general public.
"A key goal of Sprint has been to make its comprehensive Internet capabilities directly available to the American public," said Robba Benjamin, president of Sprint's Multimedia Group. "Most people who have used an online service in the last 10 years have used a Sprint network. They will be able to access this powerful network directly for the first time this fall.
"To provide a superior consumer Internet access service, we started with three essential elements: the most reliable data network in the industry, the years of consumer communications experience we bring to the table and our position as the industry's number one customer satisfaction provider," said Benjamin.
Initially, 200,000 existing Sprint residential customers will be invited to "test drive" the new service. Customers who sign up for the test drive will be able to experience Sprint Internet Passport free until the general market release later this fall. They then can select the option that best suits their usage, either a flat rate of $19.95 per month for unlimited access, or $1.50 per hour with no minimum or maximum usage requirement.
"We make our pricing simple, predictable and understandable," said Jim Dodd, vice president, Internet Access Services in the Sprint Multimedia Group. "Sprint's simple flat-rate pricing approach matches its philosophy for other consumer services, such as Sprint Sense long distance. Our phased rollout allows us to ensure top quality, starting with customer number one. This means our customers will get their software quickly, will be able to sign on to the service easily and will get all of the customer and technical support they need."
Sprint Internet Passport provides all of the features and functions that both new and experienced users need to make accessing and using the Internet simple, including:
* Netscape Navigator
* A rebate certificate for a 28.8 Kbps modem
* Access speeds up to 14.4 and 28.8 Kbps
* Local dial access in 212 U.S. metropolitan areas, serving more than 75
percent of the U.S. market for Internet services
* A dedicated Web site with e-mail, news, directory and search services,
offered in conjunction with CNET, Infoseek, Lycos and Netscape
* Consumer support services including Internet primers and aids for using
the Internet, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (24 x 7) service and
technical support, available online and via a toll-free 800 number
* Convenient credit card billing
In addition, Sprint plans to offer the following by the end of the year:
* Support for other popular browsers
* Apple Macintosh support
* Access to parental control
* 1-800 access for mobile travelers
* Integrated billing with long distance services
* Access in more than 300 metropolitan areas
For more information about Sprint Internet Passport, Sprint customers can call 1-800-359-3900.
"We knew from the outset that making Internet access available in a high- quality, simple, easy-to-use fashion was not going be easy or quick to achieve," said Dodd. "It requires the excellence in basic service expected in long distance plus the ability to make a broad array of PC software applications accessible to the user. By recognizing the similarities and differences between this and our core businesses, we believe Sprint will be able to set a new standard by which all other Internet Service Providers will be measured."
Sprint Internet Passport leverages Sprint's network infrastructure, which enables Sprint to provide nationwide network and applications services to businesses and consumers, using the most advanced Internet tools and support systems available. Sprint also is working with industry-leading "partners" such as Cisco Systems, Digital Equipment, Netscape, The Portal Information Network, Sun Microsystems and 3COM.
In 1992, Sprint became the first long distance company to offer commercial Internet service. Sprint currently provides Internet access connectivity for more than 1,000 Internet Service Providers (comprising 50 percent of ISPs) and is the leading provider of Internet services to business. Sprint also provides on-line access for most major proprietary online providers.
Currently, Sprint carries nearly 40 percent of domestic Internet traffic and 60 percent of international traffic -- some 1,000 terabytes (one terabyte = one trillion bytes) per month. As International Connections Manager, Sprint provides Internet access to U.S. networks for more than 100 non-U.S. networks. Global One, the joint venture of Sprint, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, provides IP service to 400 non-U.S. business and government customers in more than 50 cities outside the U.S., and links to IP networks in 70 countries.
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