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Sun-Netscape alliance wins key vote of confidence

Frontier Communications plans to announce that it will use the duo's technology to provide outsourced Internet services, which is likely to give the young partnership a boost in a growing market.

In an apparently significant win for the Sun-Netscape software alliance, Frontier Communications plans to announce Monday that it will use the duo's technology to deliver outsourced email capabilities to corporations, Internet service providers, and Web-based firms, according to sources.

Frontier's plans are part of an initiative to offer a series of Internet-based outsourced services via its 20,000-mile telecommunications network.

By choosing technology developed by a partnership of Sun Microsystems and Netscape Communications, Frontier could provide an important boost for the young alliance in a growing market. Competitor Critical Path rode the outsourced-messaging trend to a public stock offering.

As an alternative to building internal systems, corporations and Web-based companies are increasingly choosing to outsource applications such as email. Frontier hopes to host corporate Web sites, for example, and gain additional revenue through extra services such as email.

Frontier also intends to offer scheduling, collaboration, and messaging services that combine voice, email and fax, sources said. As part of the deal, it will also implement messaging software and hardware from Sun-Netscape, as well as Sun's iPlanet Webtop desktop tool, they said.

The Sun-Netscape combination is an outgrowth of a complex arrangement hammered out when America Online purchased Netscape for $10 billion in March.

Frontier is in the process of merging with international telecommunications firm Global Crossing.

Sun and Netscape have been developing the technology since June, according to sources. Frontier plans to market the outsourced services in the fourth quarter, they said.

The alliance said last month that the integration between the two firm's software groups is on schedule.