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Track around the clock

A new service launching in November from net.Genesis tracks and reports on Web site access and retrieval times from a Net user's perspective.

A new service to test the performance of Web sites from a Net user's perspective will be launched November 1.

The net.Sweep service from net.Genesis tracks and reports on Web site access and retrieval times around the clock.

"I think it fills a really essential need in the industry, which is to know what the performance of a site is and to have an auditable way of comparing [it to others]," said Forrester Research analyst Carl Howe, who worked for Internet service provider BBN's Web hosting business until a month ago.

Such services will give Webmasters and Web hosting firms a way to claim bragging rights as a fast Web site backed by data from an independent third party.

Apparently net.Sweep is the first such monitoring service, but similar offerings are under development by others, said Howe, who would not name potential competitors.

The offering by net.Genesis is designed to help companies spot problems as they emerge so they can address them by changing hosts or adding hardware, software, or bandwidth, said Rajat Bhargava, the company's president/CEO.

The service will work from five hubs around the United States and can test sites at connection speeds ranging from 28.8 kbps to 45 mbps (over high-bandwidth T3 lines). Sites are tested up to ten times hourly and customers are notified by email and pager of impending problems. The service can tell Web site operators how performance varies by region, time of day, and service provider.

Customers, who will pay from $100 to $10,000 a month by selecting from three different service levels, also can have net.Genesis check on the performance of competitors' Web sites.

The company already markets its net.Analysis software to report on Web site usage, and it plans in early 1997 to unveil software that will identify whether slow access speeds to a Web site result from server problems or network congestion. Other products are planned to target other factors in Web site performance, and the offerings will be built to work together with net.Analysis.

Howe points out that data net.Genesis will collect for net.Sweep could be used to rank ISPs. The firm will use several ISPs in each of its five hubs and could compare how long it takes to access a particular Web site using different access providers.