Merging Onto the Information Superhighway

The Internet is literally bursting at the seams with new users, but should you be a part of it? The answer is, "it depends." As with any purchase, your company should weigh the costs and benefits to make an informed decision.

Internet access will provide you with access to millions of bits of information about companies and their products, via the World Wide Web. The Web is a collection of data all over the world that is accessed using web browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Users can access the Web 24 hours a day to retrieve information, place orders, download software, and much more. The Internet also provides an inexpensive way to communicate with other users around the world via e-mail which can potentially save quite a bit of money in long-distance phone and fax charges. Users can also use Internet newsgroups to communicate with other users. The term newsgroup is actually a misnomer because they have almost nothing to do with providing news; instead these groups provide a way for users to get together and post public messages about topics of mutual interest. For example, the many subgroups under the rec.collecting label are dedicated to collectors of all types. Over 10,000 newsgroups are currently available.

As with every good thing, there is a price. Internet service typically costs $20-25 per month for an account with a local Internet service provider (ISP). In addition you need to factor in increased phone charges and the time spent accessing the Internet. Connecting to the Internet requires a modem as well as special software. In many cases the software is provided by your ISP, but others recommend you purchase Netscape or use the Internet software built into Windows 95 or OS/2. Be sure to choose an ISP with a phone number that is a local call from your office and/or home.

Spinning a Web of Your Own

With the growing popularity of the Internet and the World Wide Web, many companies are wondering how to set up a Web site of their own. Web sites can contain marketing information, online catalogs and ordering, product specifications, and much more. Anything that can be printed can be published on the web in some form. Many advanced sites can supply information specific to each user, such as stock quotes and portfolio tracking.

The Web is excellent for publishing large amounts of information at relatively little cost. The catch, however, is that potential customers have to know how to reach your site! You have probably noticed Web addresses displayed in TV and print ads (for example: This gives viewers a way to contact the company and view information on its products without the company paying for salespeople to answer questions.

Setting up a Web site is actually fairly simple, in concept. Thousands of users have already set up sites of their own on services such as America Online, which provides space to set up a small site for free. Unfortunately these services typically have longer addresses (such as which are harder to remember.

Hosting a web site with a local provider typically costs anywhere from $50 to $100 per month, although this may include one Internet account. Many also have start-up costs to set up your site. Most importantly, the "content" of your site must be developed and coded into HTML, the language used by web browsers. Much thought should go into the planning of your site as it will reflect directly upon your company's image, just as with conventional advertising and sales literature.

What's in a Name?

Most companies set up a domain name that others use to access the company's web site. A domain name can be used for web access, file downloading, and email. For example, ITS has registered the domain

The number of registered domain names has exploded during the last few years. Currently, around 3,000 domain names are registered every day. For companies who have not yet obtained a domain name, this means that your name may already be taken! There can be only one domain, for example, even though there are thousands of McDonald's restaurants. Furthermore, they must compete for that domain against McDonald's Bakery or any other businesses that might want to use that name.

If you would like more information on how to obtain Internet access or set up a Web site, please contact us. We will be happy to assist you.

October 1997

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