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Virtual Resources makes e-commerce real

Virtual Resources enters the high-speed Internet access market with a plan to help business customers move into electronic commerce.

    Virtual Resources today entered the high-speed Internet access market with a plan to help business customers move into electronic commerce.

    Virtual Resources, a network engineering and consulting firm with about 100 employees, plans to offer ISDN and frame relay services both in the United States and internationally. The company will operate as an ISP (Internet service provider) for businesses, but will also provide other services such as Web site hosting, Net-based design, content development, integration of local and wide area networks, training, and technical support.

    "We are moving into becoming an ISP as part of a larger services deployment plan," said Terry Parsons, who heads the new ISP initiative.

    Internationally, Virtual hopes to create a "PoP in a box" offering, a franchised ISP model that would let customers set up commercial Internet access services in their own nations.

    Virtual sees its small size as an advantage over the major phone carriers that are increasingly dominating the ISP market.

    "They tend to suffer from their size as opposed to benefiting," Parsons said. "Because we're a smaller company, we don't have to hit a mass market. We can focus on niche markets."

    To boost its ISP efforts, Virtual Resources hired away four key employees from MindSpring Enterprises, a consumer-oriented Internet service provider in Atlanta.

    Virtual Resources will target mid-sized and smaller companies in the United States and look to offer unspecified back-end services to other ISPs. The company also plans to help customers set up e-commerce sites.

    "Outside the United States, we have customers that are finding their retailers are suffering from competition with U.S. retailers that have Internet storefronts," he said.

    Privately held Virtual Resources has 15 U.S. offices and operations in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Latin America.