Increased Competition Broadens International Services Menu.
Richard Kozak, Vice President of finance and chief financial officer for TRT Communications, sums it up best when he says that, unlike the first half of the 1980s, where the emphasis in the communications industry was on rate reduction and promotional pricing, the second half of the decade will be a period of emphasis on service. "While some companies may continue to attempt to use price discounting as a means to obtain or retain business," on service. "While some companies may continue to attempt to use price discounting as a means to obtain or retain business," he says, "customers' decisions as to which service or carrier they use will ultimately be based on quality of service and responsiveness to continually changing customer needs."
Some of the new services are based on advances in satellite and semiconductor technology and the growing use of digital techniques; others result from the competition fostered by the FCC by allowing AT&T and Wester Union to enter the international data market. Another important part of the FCC move was the requirement for Western Union to provide the international record carriers with full and equal interconnection to its network. In addition, the IRCs were force to interconnect with each other in the United States. They were also granted permission to offer telex and similar services within the US. Together, these arrangements give users access, through a single terminal, to the services offered by all the carriers, eliminating the need to subscribe to more than one service and to lease more then one terminal, as previously required.
AT&T Reaches Out To Europe
One of AT&T's first moves in entering the international data transmission services arena was to link its Dataphone Digital Service with similar service offered in Canada by the Trans-Canada Telephone System. Freed to provide general international data transmission services, AT&T also filed a regional tariff, lowering the rates for alternate voice/data private lines. Last March, AT&T Communications began beaming high-speed digital data and videoconferencing signals via satellite to France over its International Accunet Reserved 1.5 Service. Operating at 1.544 Mb/s, the service is a digital two-way offering capable of providing a wide range of voice, data and full-color, full-motion video services.
AT&T says it expects the service to France will be used primarily for transatlantic videoconferencing. According to France Telecom, videoconferencing is used quite commonly in France for business meetings, and facilities are in place to allow broad acces to points throughout the country. With the new service, users in 32 US cities will be able to originate videoconferences or send data to France 24 hours a day, seven days a week. US cusomers can reserve time on the service network by calling the AT&T Communications reservations center at (800) 323-6672. Details on the French portion of the service can be obtained from France Telecom at (212) 977-8630.
For the service, AT&T is using international satellite circuits leased from the Communications Satellite Corporation. Users in the US pay $450 per half-hour for AT&T's portion of the transatlantic circuit. Users outside of New York also pay an additional domestic Accunet Reserved 1.5 Service charge from the originating city. Users of public videoconferencing facilities are also charged set up and service fees.
France is the third global point to become a part of the AT&T International Accunet 1.5 Service network. AT&T began offering the service to the United Kingdom in April 1984 via the seventh transatlantic telecommunications cable. On December 3 it began a similar service to Canada, linking with Telecom Canada's Dataroute network at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. The service links public and private videoconferencing rooms in the US with Telecom Canada's Conference 600 service, which is currently available in Toronto and Ottawa. Other locations scheduled for the service include Quebec, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and London, Ontario.
International Toll-Free Service
AT&T also provides toll-free calling to the US from a number of countries through its International 800 Service. Callers abroad using the service dial special telephone numbers in the foreign country and have their calls routed via international facilities to US businesses. Under a reciprocal arrangement, similar toll-free calling services are available from the US to the same countries. AT&T first offered 800 Service internationally in January 1984, when AT&T 800 Service-Canada became available. In November the company began providing the service from France and has since added the United Kingdom, The netherlands and Bermuda to the service network. Subcribers using AT&T International 800 Service from the United Kingdom pay $84 per cumulative hour, or $1.40 per minute for the service. In addition, US customers pay $36.80 per line per month for connection to the AT&T Communications network, and $50 per month for access to the British Telecom network in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Western Union continues to consolidate its position as an international carrier. It has provided service to the 154 overseas locations equipped to handle international telex traffic since August 1982, and offers cablegram service to other locations. However, the firm's major emphasis in recent times has been with its EasyLink store-and-forward message service, which allows users with personal computers, word processors and other intelligent terminals to send and receive electronic messages using their existing equipment and telephone lines. It also provides a gateway to the telex network, enhancing the information and application capabilities available to subscribers worldwide. Western Union believes that EasyLink is moving the firm in the direction of becoming the basic office message carrier for the entire business community--and by that it means the worldwide business community.
Among the service features are RediList, which allow users to store address lists and send the same message to many people at once without retyping, copying, addressing and stuffing envelopes; and NiteCast, which offers the same convenience but sends telex and other messages at night when costs are lowest. To combat the spiraling cost of telex access lines, Western Union offers Economy Telex, which substitutes a telephone line for the telex link. As for information access, Western Union's FYI Reports deliver the latest national and international money, stock market and news events to EasyLink and telex subscribers.
GTE Telenet has operated its Telemail computer-based message service since 1980, enabling users of virtually any type of data terminal, personal computer or communicating word processor to send, received, forward and file messages quickly and conveniently. In addition, the firm has supplied Telemail systems to communications administrations in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Hong Kong. Last December, it announced that the Telemail systems will be interconnected directly using the X.400 global message-handling standards developed and recommended by the Consutative Committee on International Telephone and Telegraph (CCITT).
A First with Software Based on CCITT Standards
GTE Telenet's adoption of the standards follows its active role in helping to develop them. According to Joseph Porfeli, vice president and general manager for network applications and terminals, Telemail will be the first electronic mail service to have systems connected internationally with software based on the CCITT recommendations. "We believe GTE Telenet's support for the X.400 recommendations will encourage other companies to accommodate X.400 protocols in their products," he says. Porfeli feels the same X.400 standards will ultimately be adopted by hardware and software manufacturers to assure interconnection capabilities among PBXs, personal computers and other communications devices.
The Canadian Envoy 100 electronic mail system will be the first to implement a direct international link to the Telemail system, according to Porfeli. He said the interconnection is expected to become operational before June, adding that negotiations are underway with other international partners and that further agreements are imminent.
"This new service will enable Telemail users in different countries to communicate more easily and cost-effectively than ever before," Porfeli claims. Until now, Telemail users located in different countries have communicated by making long-distance packet-switching calls to GTE Telenet's US Telemail system or to the electronic mail systems in other countries. The new capability will reduce the cost of international communications by allowing all nations to establish direct Telemail links to each other, Porfeli claims.
As an example of the new service, an Envoy 100 customer in Canada who communicates regularly with a US-based Telemail customer will no longer have to maintain a separate Telemail account. The user will need only a mailbox on the Canadian national system and will be able to communicate internationally by making local telephone calls. Full mailbox capabilities will be available, including on-line editing, forwarding and electronic filing.
Pact Between GTE Telenet and RCA Globecom
GTE Telenet has also reached agreement with RCA Global Communications allowing its electonic mail users to send and receive telexes over Telemail. A Telemail user can now receive telex messages on a terminal, and have the full complement of Telemail features, including message forwarding, electronic filing, customized forms creation, bulletin board capabilities and on-line editing.
Commenting on the service, George Lieb, director of electronic messaging services for GTE Telenet, noted that the business traveler can now receive telexes on a portable terminal in the privacy of his or her hotel room. The messages are stored securely, and there is no need to be near a telex machine. "Most importantly," he adds, "the traveler is never out of reach for the 1.5 million corporations, government agencies and individuals throughout the world who rely on telex as their standard means of data communications."
Multinational Value-Added Services
In February, GTE Telenet further expanded its international interest by forming a joint venture with Intec, a Tokyo-bsaed computer and communications firm, to supply multinational value-added network services. According to Paolo Guidi, vice president and general manager of GTE Telenet's Network Systems and International Services business unit, the initial offering will be for international network services, electronic messaging and data processing services between Japan and the United States. However, plans for call for expansion throughout southeast Asia and into Europe.
GTE Telenet and Intec are major partners in the venture with seven other Japanese companies: the Bank of Tokyo, Nikko Securities, Seino Information Services, Nissko-Iwai, Brother Industries, Matsushita Communications Industrial and the Mitsubishi Bank. "Our partnership in this new venture with major Japanese corporations is based on our mutual realization that international business communications has not kept pace with the development of technology," Guidi states.
"I believe this is due to the lack of appropriate focus on global requirements. We know that the technologies now are well-proven and cost-effective; the success of the Telenet network in the United States and of Intec's Ace Telenet public network in Japan provides ample proof. Our strategy is to capitalize on the infrastructure of these existing networks and to build and market added-value services on a worldwide basis, within the new flexibility brought about by current trends towards deregulation."
GTE Telenet received FCC permission to become an international record carrier in 1982, and its global data network now extends to more than 50 countries. Through its international gateway, the carrier provides direct connections to countries such as United Kingdom, Mexico Canada, Chile and Australia. It also provides transit services to other North American and worldwide networks. Its sister subsidiary, GTE Sprint Communications is also expanding into the international arena with long-distance telephone service to the United Kingdom and Australia. It has also conducted service tests with France and Spain.
MCI Moves Voice and Data Overseas
In providing international telephone service, GTE Sprint joins MCI, which was the first to challenge AT&T's monopoly over handling telephone calls to and from Europe and the rest of the world. MCI entered the international data communications marketplace in 1982 with its $185-million acquisition of Western Union International from Xerox. Characteristically, one of MCI's initial moves was to provide volume discounts for international telex traffic. It also filed a low-cost tariff for its Voice Express private-line voice service between New York and the United Kingdom and Belgium. In another rate-cutting move, MCI offered an inaugural 30-day promotional rate of 50 cents per minute for its direct telex service between the United States and Canada.
Today, MCI International offers store-and-forward telex operation, along with packet-switching and digital facsimile services. With the Auto-Safe store-and-forward telex service, MCI redials busy numbers, makes cablegram conversions, provides message identification numbers and gives verification of delivery. Multi-Call lets the user call up to eight overseas telex numbers in one simple operation, while Hotline provides direct access to the international network. For inbound traffic, In-Safe II avoids busy signals by answering simultaneous incoming calls, accepting messages and storing them. Subscribers can choose to have the messages forwarded to a designated terminal or held in a mailbox for retrieval when convenient. Besides telex machines, the service accommodates data terminals operating at speeds to 2.4 kb/s over DDD lines. MCI's Data Base Service uses packet-switching technology to provide access to public data bases, while its international Facsimile Bureau Service transmits an 8.5-by-11-inch page in under 30 seconds. MCI also offers a number of multi-port terminal systems.
MCI's latest service offering, Insight, provides its telex subscirbers with news and information on subjects including business, sports, travel and investments. Brokerage services are provided by North American Investment Corporation, a full-service discount brokerage firm, through its on-line Naico-Net service. Besides providing access to major stock and bond exchanges and information on initial public offerings, Naico-Net allows subscribers to execute transactions. "Insight is another step in applying state-of-the-art technology to the international communications marketplace," says Seth Blumenfeld, MCI International president. "In the last few months, we have expanded our voice services to eight countries, and we soon will be opening our first international electronic post office in Brussels."
SBS Promotes Videoconferencing
Another relative newcomer to the international scene, Satellite Business Systems (SBS), also received FCC authorization to operate as an international communications carrier in September 1982. However, it had concluded its first international operating agreement with British Telecom International, Britain's international communications carrier earlier that year. Since then, SBS has expanded service to other European countries as well as to Canada, Mexico and Hong Kong. SBS currently offers two advanced international communications services: Interlink leased channels provide full-period digital links at a variety of transmission speeds; while Interlink Digital Communications Service provides high-speed digital channels on a scheduled basis for periods as brief as one hour. Applications for the Interlink services range from videoconferencing and bulk data transmission at up to 1.5 Mb/s, to document distribution at the rate of many pages per minute.
Last October, SBS reached agreements with the communications administrations of France and Switzerland to provide digital videoconferencing links between those countries and the United States. The service could begin as early as mid-year. At the US end, SBS will provide service through Interlink, with access from SBS international operating centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and McLean, Virginia. SBS has public videoconferencing rooms in a number of those cities, and public rooms are also available in France and Switzerland.
France Cables and Radio (FCR) has installed a public videoconferencing room at La Defence, a commercial office complex in Paris. FCR also plans to add public rooms later in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Metz, Nantes, Rouen and Toulouse. The rooms will be compatible with the European Cost 211 standard for videoconferencing. Private rooms will also be interconnected to the PTT's digital transmission facilities.
In Switzerland, the agreement between the communications ministry and SBS provides for a public videoconferencing room at the Ecole Polytechnique of Zurich. Also, a mobile studio with portable digital microwave transmit/receive equipment will be based in Geneva and available for use from most areas of Switzerland. Private teleconferencing rooms there can be interconnected with Swiss digital transmission facilities that operate at CCITT rates of 64 kb/s and 2.048 Mb/s.
SBS has provided Interlink service with British Telecom International for transatlantic videoconferencing since April 1984 at the Intercontinental Hotel in central London and at a BTI Confravision studio. BTI says it now plans to extend service to Confravision rooms in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. Private rooms may also be interconnected at 2.043 Mb/s with British Telecom's Megastream network. Under other agreements, SBS is also authorized to provide service to Canada, Hong Kong, Italy and The Netherlands. In February, SBS announced a joint operating agreement with Kokusai Denshim Denwa (KDD) to provide high-speed communications services between Japan and the US mainland. Services will include Interlink data transport and videoconferencing for business meetings using improved codecs that permit near-full-motion video at 56 kb/s. SBS will provide the US half of the services, and KDD the Japanese half.
Commenting on the international videoconferencing services, Stephen Schwartz, president of SBS, notes that, while videoconferencing will not replace business travel, it is a preferred substitute for much routine, repetitive travel. "Videoconferencing as preparation and followup can make travel, when it does occur, more effective and more productive," Schwartz says. He also claims that improved compression techniques and service innovations are steadily reducing the cost of videoconferencing, making it economical for a larger number of businesses. "When high-quality links are available on a regular basis, we think demand will grow rapidly."
Private Satellites Cause Stir
In developing its Interlink service, SBS was successful in overcoming the traditional reluctance of foreign PTTs to enter into operating agreements with new US carriers. Historically, the PTTs have been concerned that additional interconnection arrangements would simply increase their operating expenses without adding to the total revenue base. The view was that price competition among United States carriers would not stimulate total international volume to any great extent because the market for traditional telephone, telex and leased-circuit services was relatively price-inelastic.
SBS attributes its success in the operating-agreement negotiations to its focus on advanced communications services, which it argued would bring the PTTS the promise of new sources of revenue without posing a major threat to their existing international services. The argument was that advanced high-speed digital services capable of supporting bulk data transfer and videoconferencing would compete primarily with the international courier services and the airlines, rather than with existing international communcations services, so that both SBS and its PTT correspondents, not to mention their mutual customers, would be much better off.
Now the international communications community faces another contentious issue arising from communications deregulation in the US. Last November, President Reagan gave his long-awaited approval to use of private satellites for international communications, allowing firms to compete against the International Telecommunications Satellite organization (Intelsat), the cooperative system that carriers two-thirds of the telephone and television links among nations.
The policy decision was delayed for almost two years due to the controversy overseas over allowing competition for Intelsat. Officials from many of the 109 member nations claimed that competing American companies would harm the system by taking some of its most lucrative business, and would drive up the cost of communications services for all nations. Intelsat officials also argued that an American move to allow competitive systems could prompt other countries to build them too, so that the cooperative would have significantly fewer users to bear its cost. Representatives of developing nations were also concerned that their countries would lose basic, low-cost international communications services if industrialized nations abandoned Intelsat.
In response, proponents of competing systems argued that private international satellites would bring much lower prices, a greater variety of services, flexible leases and other new options. They also pointed to the new services that Intelsat has introduced since the initial competitive filing was made, adding that, besides helping users, the services have increased usage of the Intelsat system, which had previously been operating at less than 50 percent of capacity.
In endorsing the use of private international satellites, President Reagan did impose two requirements: competing companies won't be allowed to carry international telephone service, which accounts for some 80 percent of Intelsat's revenue. In addition, any country that uses a competing satellite must consult with Intelsat to ensure that the competing systems will not significantly harm Intelsat and is technically compatible with the international system. Critics complain that there is no way to monitor whether private lines will be switched into the public network, and that advanced technology will eventually allow tha new competitors to circumvent the ban. Also, they point out that data transmission services, not telephone traffic, represent the fastest growth in communications revenues.
Changes can also be expected in Intelsat, since the Commerce and State Departments have been instructed to push for flexible rates rather than the globally averaged rates currently used by Intelsat. The departments will also try to persuade the FCC to allow US carriers other than Comsat to deal directly with Intelsat for competitive communications services. "Affording companies in addition to Comsat the option of dealing with Intelsat for competitive services is a necessary step to ensure additional facilities are constructed only where economically and technically justified," a government official claims.
TRT Adds To International Firsts
The initial filing for a private satellite systems was made by Washington-based Orion Satellite in March 1983. Other would-be competitors of Intelsat include International Satellite, Incorporated (ISI) of Washington, DC, RCA American Communications of Princeton, New Jersey, and Cygnus Satellite of Alexandria, Virginia, who have all applied to provide data and video transmission links between the US and Western Europe, the most lucrative route; and Pan American Satellite of New York, which has proposed satellite services between North and South America.
Two TRT Partnerships
One of the firms, International Satellite, has an international record carrier, TRT Communications of Washington, DC as a principal partner, with a 43-percent equity interest. ISI aplied to the FCC in August 1983 for authority to construct, launch and operate a Ku-band satellite system to provide primarily high-speed data and video transmission services between North America and Western Europe. With the satellite's orbital slots, ISI will be able to serve the entire continental United States as well as most of western Europe using small-aperture earth-station antennas on customer premises, transmitting and receiving signals directly with the satellites. ISI says it plans to sell or lese the bulk of the system's capacity on a long-term basis to high-volume users such as multinational corporations, banks, broadcasters and other producers and users of video programming, with the remaining capacity being made available for users requiring less capacity.
In addition to its venture in ISI, TRT has formed a partnership with Comsat to own and operate earth stations in New York and Washington, DC to provide international business services (IBS) via the Intelsat System. Under the agreement, each partner will share equally in the ownership and operation of the earth stations. Speaking for TRT, President David Lubetzky claimed there is a growing market demand for international wideband digital business services that is currently not being satisfied by existing facilities. "We believe that this partnership will provide an effective means to meet this demand," he says.
More Firsts for TRT
The partnership also gives TRT the distinction of being the first international record carrier to provide IBS services through its own earth station. Recently, TRT also became the first US carrier to interconnect with the Datex-L network of the Federal Republic of Germany for the provision of international circuit-switched data services. Service is also available to Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway and Sweden via Germany. Both X.21 and X.21 bis interfaces are supported at speeds from 300 to 9600 b/s, giving users the benefits of high-speed digital private-line service at rates that are competitive to using the international telephone service for data transmission.
According to TRT's Richard Kozak, the carrier's overall business strategy is to develop the capability to handle data and voice communications of large-volume customers on a fully integrated and cost-effective basis through continued expansion of its high-speed data and packet-switching services, development of international broadband digital satellite transmission services, and entry into the international voice services market. TRT's opening into the international telephone market came in February when it announced an agreement with British Telecom International to provide direct dial telephone service between the US and United Kingdom.
As for international packet-switching services, TRT has expanded its reach to 46 countries, eight of which route their traffic exclusively via TRT. Domestically, TRT provides X.25 and IBM 3270 and 2780/3780 host connections, as well as asynchronous dial-services. Interconnection are maintained with the domestic networks on Tymnet, GTE Telenet and General Electric Information Services Company (Geisco). Users can access TRT's international telex network via domestic packet networks on both a real-time and store-and-forward basis. TRT claims to be one of the first to provide real-time access from 300/1200-b/s terminals to international telex networks via packet networks.
Despite these new offerings, international telex continues to be the firm's largest service. During the past five years, TRT tripled its total telex revenues, and more than doubled its share of the US-originated telex market from six to 13 percent. Even after the entry of Western Union into the international telex market, TRT says it continued to increase its market share, in contrast to its three larger competitors, which TRT says lost market share.
Last October, TRT further expanded its telex operations by concluding an agreement with Geisco to provide telex access to subscribers of Geisco's enhanced Quick-Comm electronic mail services. Through the service, Quick-Comm subscribers can send and receive communications to and from any telex terminal in the world. In December, TRT reached a similar agreement with Wang Labs to provide telex access to Wangpac subscribers. TRT has also reached an agreement with The Source to provide exclusive telex access to the wide range of information services and data bases available from The Source.
TRT's domestic network has been expanded to provide users with local access from more than 400 cities through either packet-switching networks, DDD or dedicated lines. To support its various services, TRT uses a computer-controlled telex switch and a multi-processor integrated data system (IDS) in its Fort Lauderdale center. IDS uses PDP 11/70s as network hosts for data routing and storage, with PDP 11/44s serving as front ends. These front-end processors allow TRT to accept any data format from a customer and make possible a variety of tailored services. Processors can be readily reprogrammed to accommodate changing service requirements, or added if extra throughput or a new service is needed.
With the Multi-Speed store-and-forward service, IDS allows subscribers to send data to TRT at a variety of speeds from 50 to 9600 b/s. IDS buffers the data and converts it to telex traffic for international transmission. In addition, the service permits code as well as speed conversion. Its Databypass feature allows computer-dialed direct telex calls to be made and traffic sent in a continuous stream on the same connection without reformatting.
Likewise, the Inbound Express service allows subscribers to have inbound traffic delivered to TRT, where it can be stored or batched by sending party, originating country or some other category, and then delivered at speeds to 4.8 kb/s on a dial-up or dedicated-line basis. Delivery can be scheduled for one time or at specified periods during the day. Alternatively, subscribers can retrieve information from the password-protected mailbox service. TRT has enhanced the Inbound Express service with automatic dial-up capabilities so that, between deliveries, users can check their mailboxes. TRT says the service has become very popular with subscribers who prefer receiving their overseas traffic batched by country of origin at designated times.
Its Shared User Service has also become popular with large-volume customers seeking greater control over their traffic. The service provides subscribers with a corporate message switch that appears dedicated to their use but, in fact, is shared by many organizations. This means that users can tailor their message-switching applications to their individual needs, but without the development and operational costs associated with dedicated switches. The service also provides customers with on-line message status inquiry, historical information retrieval, internal network and individual message control, and expanded traffic processing and data storage capabilities.
TRT has also expanded its Constellation series of terminals to include models with 512K of random access memory, 20M-byte disk drives, multiple operator screens, enhanced word processing and unique security options for bank wire transfer and other similar applications.
ITT Bridges User Networks
To face the increased competition and maintain its position as the largest international carrier, ITT World Communications is putting together an array of networks and service capabilities to provide users with a comprehensive yet customized electronic messaging environment. According to Thomas Murawski, vice president and director of Records/Lease Business for the ITT Communications Services Group, the goal is to provide complete connectivity among user networks, whether they are public or private, telephone, telex or packet-switching networks. Along with connectivity, Murawski sees the need for protocol conversion and services that meet a customer's specific applications requirements.
ITThs acquisition of Dialcom was an important element of the strategy since it gave the carrier a strong position in the electronic mail market and also opened the door to other customized applications. ITT is also well-positioned with its growing domestic microwave network to satisfy a user's complete communications needs domestically and internationally. To accommodate the anticipated demand for high-speed services, ITT has invested in the new transatlantic and transpacific cables and has received FCC approval to build and operate an earth station in New York City's financial district for IBS services to Western Europe.
Broadcast Features Boost Fax-Pak
ITT's domestic telex network now offers service from 71 gateway cities throughout the U.S. It also provides direct telex service to about 150 countries. ITt has also extended its international packet-switching service, Universal Data Transfer Service, to nearly 50 countries. The latest was the inauguration of a high-speed data communications link between the People's Republic of China and the US. Previously, data communications between the two countries had been limited to telex service. ITT also reports success with the Fax-Pak service since adding broadcast features to the facsimile packet-switching offering and support for telex and ASCII data terminals.
Meanwhile, ITT Dialcom has been busy building its global electronic mail network and now has agreements with 13 countries. Also, in February, ITT Dialcom expanded its database services by providing subscribers with access to Dow Jones News/Retrieval, which comprises a variety of business, financial and general news sources, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and the Dow Jones News Service. Other news services available through ITT Dialcom include the Associated Press, United Press International and some specialized news services.
ITThs newest message service, called Speedmail, allows businesses to pay as little as $1 to transmit a letter electronically to a distant city, have it printed, insert it in a distinctive envelope and have it hand-delivered by a postal carrier. With ITT Speedmail, a sender can originate a letter on most communicating terminals and send it into the first class mailstream without leaving the desk, shuffling a paper or involving a co-worker. ITT Speedmail allows users to store mailing lists, as well as frequently used text material in a system, dramatically cutting the costs of repetition. ITT Speedmail delivers to all cities in the US, Canada and US territories.
Features Enhance Telex Operations
A host of features also makes ITT Worldcom's telex operations more productive. It's Dial-in/Dial-out service puts the full potential of ITT's telex capabilities within the reach of anyone with virtually any communicating personal computer, word processor, CRT or traditional telex terminal without the high cost of a dedicated line. Also, the carrier supports a variety of data terminals operating at speeds to 4.8 kb/s though its Databridge service. The service accepts input from the data terminals and forwards it to overseas destinations via the international telex network. In addition, Databridge can intercept a user's inbound telex traffic, consolidate it and send it when, where and how the user wants.
ITT Worldcom's Timetran store-and-forward telex service can be accessed via Databridge or can be dialed directy by telex/TWX subscribers using a special code. Outbound messages can be sent to the Timetran system individually or batched. As an option, Timetran routes messages via international cable at a specified time if it has been unable to complete the telex transmission. For inbound telex traffic, the Insure service gives users a choice of two delivery schedules: during a specief time of day, or on demand. With the latter mailbox option, users are assigned a password key for retrieving the stored traffic. Another option is the automatic storing of traffic when the receiving terminal is busy or out of service, which means that overseas correspondents never get a busy signal and no calls are missed. Last May, ITT has also added a
24-hour news service, called Update, which gives telex subscribers access to one of the most comprehensive and usable of worldwide and regional news, financial and business information, airline schedules and the like.
Since ITT Worldcom provides automated DAtel service, the voice-grade switch could provide a stepping stone for international telephone service. For the moment, ITT is concentrating on is domestic telephone network, but it has plans for international service. According to Murawski, the international telephone service, when it comes, "will not be traditional."
RCA Builds on Messaging Strengths
The other majfor international record carrier, RCA Global Communications, has also moved to enhance its messaging capabilities and to extend its capacity for handling high-speed international traffic. RCA Globcom intends to offer IBS services, but is keeping its plans confidential for the moment. On the messaging front, the carrier formed a partnership with PageAmerica Group in January to develop a worldwide radio messaging service. This development followed the introduction of an integrated electronic mail service, called RCA Mail, at the TCA Show in San Diego last September. Unlike other electronic mail services, RCA mail is part of a total electronic messaging service with access to RCA Globcom's domestic domestic and international telex network.
Under its agreement with PageAmerica, RCA Globcom agreeed to pay $6 million for some 15 percent of the firm's stock, with rights to purchase additional shares to obtain a majority interest if it makes a further investment of at least $4 million by the end of 1985. RCA has until 1989 to decide whether to begin to exercise those rights. According to President Valerian Podmolik, RCA has been evaluating the radio paging industry for several years, both as a new opportunity for several years, both as a new opportunity and as an extension of its RCA Globcom network. "We see radio paging as s $4-billion-plus industry within 10 years with network-driven, value-addded paging as the major growth sector," Podmolik says "This is the focus of the Radio PageAmerica network as well as fo PageAmerica, and plays to strenghts already in place at RCA."
RCA Mail is designed to operate with almost any type of computer terminal, using upper and lower-case letters and a full 80-character-width screen. It has a wide vareity of message-handling features, provides a complete interface with the telex network and uses simple one-word commands instead of cumbersome formats. Kenneth Gross, vice president of marketing, believes that RCA Mail offers companies total control in managing their business communications.
"Because the service combines many easy-to-use features with RCA Globcom's telex network, businesses can have one source for all their data communications requirements," he says. "The service can save money and time. It eliminates telephone tag and delivers business messages, memos or other correspondence quicker than the Post Office direct to a correspondent's desk. In addition, RCA Mail is available for boty intracompany and public use."
For those messages, or reports, that have to be sent frequently, a fill-in-the-blank form many be created with RCA Mail, assuring easy and accurate delivery of this type of information. A direct-delivery option can be requested so that incoming messages appear and are printed out on a terminal as they are received. A message can also be sent to arrive at a specific data and time; for example, on the day before an important meeting. Information can be stored for the meeting in the customer's files on the system so that can be cross-referenced and retrieved or even edited while an executive is traveling.
RCA Globcom's computer-to-telex service also allows subscribers to use personal computers and word processors to communicate over the phone with any telex machine in the world. Virtually any word processor or personal computer can use the service after registering (at no charge) for the service and paying only the cost of the telex call. A user simply dials a special-toll-free number, receives an indication that the connectin has been made, enters the RCA telex number and sends the telex message.
Operation with Globcom's Telextra store-and-forward service and DataBank electronic mailbox is also available via toll-free number at speeds to 300 and 1200 b/s. Subscribers use a private password to retrieve messages stored in the DataBank. According to Gross, the service can handle telex messages as large as 100,000 characters, which is equivalent to about 1400 lines of 69 characters on a standard telex machine.
With the Telextra services, personal computer users have the same flexibility afforded RCA's telex subscribers. Telextra supports most common protocols at asynchronous rates to 1.2 kb/s and synchronous rates to 2.4 kb/s. With outbound service, the Select-A-Time option allows users to instruct the Telextra computer to keep trying to deliver telex messages for period ranging up to a day. At the user's option, an undeliverable telex messages can be converted to an international telegram. If a connection cannot be completed, alternate addresses can be specified to help guarantee delivery and increase the chances of getting through quickly. Also , insted of sending individual telex messages, they can be batched for subsequent delivery via Telextra. Through an agreement with TWA, subscribers of the airline's PARS reservation system can tie into RCA's worldwide telex and telegram network via a direct-access connection to the Telextra system.
For inbound traffic, users can specify ThruData service to avoid busy signals. With this service, RCA accepts a subscriber's incoming calls when all lines are busy and delivers them automatically when free lines become available. Users can also specify alternate addresses for incoming messages.
Through an interface with the public telephone network, RCA Globcom offers a direct connection between a company's 50-baud telex terminal anywhere in the US and the carrier's international and domestic telex exchange. Through RCA's domestic telex network, local-call access is available in 83 cities, with InWATS service covering the rest of the country. The firm's ExpressNet leased-channel service also provides a data-transmission capability to 1.2 kb/s between principal business areas and the U.S. The leased channels can also interconnect with the carrier's Aircon switch for access to a variety of switched services.
Low-speed Data Service, RCA Globcom's international packet-switched offering, is now available between the United States and 41 overseas locations. LSDS supports asynchronous, bysinc and X.25 terminals at rate to 1.2 kb/s asynchronous and 9.6 kb/s synchronous. The tariff includes an access charge, which may run from $8 to $12 depending on the country, plus a usage charge of 45 to 60 cents for each transmitted kilocharacter. For countries with public packet data networks, the usage charge is based on kilosegments. Each segment can contain up to 64 data characters, or 512 bits, and the transmission charge is typically $10 to $16 per kilosegment.
RCA Globcom was responsible for inaugurating two services: the sub-minute digital facsimile offering, which it calls Q-Fax, and switched Datel service. The carrier offers Q-Fax service between the United States and some 20 countries from centers in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Guam. It also offers a news and information service, called HotLine, to US and overseas telex subscribers through agreements with Associated Press and other information providers.
FTCC Sets Pace for IBS
FTCC McDonnell Douglas offers both the lowest international telex rates and what it claims are the most sophisticated, flexible and up-to-date switching systems of any carrier. Because of FTCC's small share of the market, the FCC characterizes it as a "non-dominant carrier.c This means it is free to bundle domestic and international telex rates and to offer service at 14 cents per minute below prevailing rates.
In terms of leased transatlantic alternate voice/data (AVD) channels, however, FTCC is anything but small. According to Frank Mancuso, vice president of sales and marketing, FTCC supplies 20 percent of the AVD channels to the United Kingdom and 55 percent of the AVD channels to France. Also, FTCC was the first IRC to provide 56-kb/s service for a commercial customer. It also expects to be the first of the traditional carriers to provide 64-kb/s IBS service to the UK using an earth station at its headquarters in Manhattan.
Service is expected to begin on June 1, and, before year end, FTCC expects to have provided the first TI circuit to the United Kingdom. It also has plans to extend the service to France, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ireland, and to provide a variety of local extensions in New York through the Teleport facilities, Manhattan coaxial cable system and RF microwave links as well as via DDS and value-added network services. For the US share of its IBS service, FTCC is quoting rates of $7,000 per month for 56 and 64-kb/s rates, exclusive of hardware and local line extensions, rising to $65,000 per month for TI service and $75,000 per month for service at 2.048 Mb/s.
For its store-and-forward service, called MACS, FTCC employs Non-Stop Tandem computers arranged in an 11-processor configuration. Different processors are dedicated to different tasks, such as managing the network, the data base or the message-switching functions, which permits greater flexibility in adapting to changing usage needs. With the switch, FTCC claims it can quickly accomodate any new subscriber terminal no matter what the message format or protocol. Currently the switch is supporting Baudot, ASCII and EBCDIC terminals with asynchronous, bysinc, X.25 and SDLC protocols at speeds to 9.6 kb/s. MACS provides access to telex, DDD, private-line and packet-switching networks, as well as the Ontyme mailbox system. It provides multi-access service as well as alternate and least-cost routing. All messages are archived so that they can be retrieved and retransmitted if required. It Instore service stores each subscriber's messages in a mailbox and forwards them when a valid password is given; Mailbox service stores the subscriber's acceptance notices, delivery of notifications and daily recap reports, and forwards them on request, again under password control.
FTCC also employs a Siemens EDX-C telex switch that handles speeds to 1.2 kb/s asynchronous and 9.6 kb/s synchronous, as well as offering real-time DDD access at 110 and 300 b/s. It also permits all known methods of interchange signalling, as well as subscriber-type signaling. By interconnecting with the Tymnet network, it offers real-time telex access to the carrier's packet-switching subscribers.
In addition to the New York facilities, FTCC serves 51 gateway cities through the United States and maintains technical centers in San Francisco, Rochester and Chicago. Users have local call access through FTCC's dedicated network and the Tymnet packet-switching network. FTCC and Tymnet have been sister organizations since Tymshare acquired 80 percent of the international carrier in 1983. Tymshare was later acquire by McDonnel Douglas.
For IBM PC users, FTCC offers a software package called the Message Handler, which converts the Pc into a complete telex or messaging center. With the Message Handler, users can create, edit and change messages, and can merge files from other word processing packages. It automatically converts letters to upper case and reduces line lengths to the standard 69 characters allowed in telex transmission. Working in the background mode, it sends and receives messages, and retries calls.
FTCC's transatlantic voice service, called Invoice, employs digital time-interpolation techniques to nearly double the number of voice connections supported over standard voice circuits. These savings are passed on to subscribers in the form of a $2,250 rate for transatlantic voice service. FTCC's International Data Express Access gives users a full-period leased channel for data transmission at 2.4 and 4.8 kb/s. Using various international cable and satellite facilities, FTCC provides service to the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
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|Date:||May 1, 1985|
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