Perhaps because they seem less glamorous than either home consumers or Fortune 100 markets, small and medium-sized businesses sometimes are overlooked in the rush by high-tech companies to wire the world.
But the fast growth and economic power of smaller businesses is enormous, and the Internet industry is starting to see their moneymaking potential.
As an example, two Net giants, ANS Communications and Netcom On-Line Communications Services (NETC), each announced programs to bring more small businesses to the Net.
Netcom today launched a service that it said would simplify the connectivity and Web hosting needs of its customers, many of whom are smaller firms. Dubbed the Netcom Identity Pack, it offers dial-up Net access and a 15MB Web site through a single invoice. Through a partnership with InterNIC, customers will get confirmation in one business day confirmation for a Net domain registration.
The service costs $70 a month with a set-up fee of $50.
In another announcement, ANS Communications, an America Online company, launched a national reseller partner program. ANS seeks to capture a larger slice of the business market, typically Fortune 2000 firms. But those include the ranks of the midsized business world.
The program provides resellers with training, contact with ANS reseller account managers, and advertising and marketing support. Services available to resellers include dedicated Net access over ANSNet, one of the largest TCP/IP backbone networks. It also includes 56 kbps, fractional T1, and ANS T1 connections.
The deal gives value-added resellers a new partner for expanding in the market for Net products and services while giving ANS a way to extend its revenue stream, analysts said.
ANS is hardly ignoring the corporate giants, however. It says that its clients include 23 of the Fortune 500. "There's so much opportunity in this space" in general, said Paul Fiore, director of the reseller channel for ANS.