TELECOM WATCH

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A whole lot of back scratching: America Online, Vienna, Va., announced a string of alliances in the past two weeks. Here's the rundown: Access to AOL will be discounted to users of Basking Ridge, N.J.-based AT&T's new WorldNet Internet service. AOL will also integrate Microsoft's Internet Explorer software into its on-line service software, and Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., will add an AOL icon to Windows 95. AOL will license Mountain View, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems' Java programming for the Internet. AOL will also offer its customers Netscape's Navigator, the most widely used World Wide Web browser, and Netscape, Mountain View, Calif., will showcase AOL on its Web site. AOL will absorb the subscribers of Apple's now discontinued eWorld on-line service, and Apple, Cupertino, Calif., will include AOL software on Macintosh computers.


And they're off: GTE Corp., Stamford, Conn., this month became the first of the large local telephone companies to offer long distance service, as allowed by passage of telecommunications reform.

GTE Easy Savings Plan is currently available to customers in Michigan and Minnesota, and will be offered by year end to all 28 states where GTE now sells local service. The service is being resold through LDDS WorldCom, a GTE partner. Customers would receive one bill with local, long distance and wireless services included.

Out with a bang: IDT Corp., Hackensack, N.J., went public last week after months of speculation. Several days before the public offering, the Internet access and long distance provider announced a new pricing plan designed to undercut AT&T in both areas. The plan promises IDT customers Internet access service and domestic long distance service at 20 percent below AT&T's rates.

"We're very excited about AT&T's recent announcement [to offer Internet service] since IDT has been bundling Internet and long distance service for over a year," said IDT CEO Howard Jonas. Jonas added that the new plan, called 20/20 Vision, was introduced also to underscore the difference between IDT and other access and on-line content companies such as America Online, Herndon, Va.-based PSINet Inc. and UUNET Technologies Inc., Fairfax, Va.

Free speech vs. racist propaganda, the cyberversion: The Anti-Defamation League in New York has published "The Web of Hate: Extremists Exploit the Internet," a study that details a growing number of people and groups that are using the World Wide Web to voice racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful opinions.

"Peddling hate is not new, but being confronted with it as you sit in your home or office brings it to a new level," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the ADL. "This is hate up close and personal; it is technology perverted." Some of the groups on-line include the Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance, Holocaust Deniers and Neo-Nazi-Skinheads.

The ADL has developed a Web site (//www.adl.org>http://www.adl.org) that provides information to people who have been offended by home pages.

New alliances: VocalTec, Northvale, N.J., and CompuServe, Columbus, Ohio, have formed a partnership to sell Internet phone service. "This has the potential to expand the worldwide community of people using [VocalTec's] Internet Phone to conduct business, learn, or just have fun while talking over the Internet," said Elon Ganor, CEO of VocalTec.

CompuServe will include VocalTec's Internet Phone product with its Internet in a Box product. In return, VocalTec will bundle CompuServe's Information Manager software with the Internet Phone sold in retail stores. CompuServe will also add a VocalTec forum area to its service where users can exchange thoughts on using the Internet as a telephone.
"Internet Phone is a critical component of the future of on-line services," said Dave Eastburn, vice president of Advanced Technology for CompuServe.

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