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  Anvil Issue Sixteen

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*Anvil is a weekly newsletter and Web site providing insight into online industry news, issues and trends in easy to swallow caplets. In this week’s issue:
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TOP INDUSTRY NEWS
*AOL Struggles On
*Coalition Debunks Congestion Reports
*Net Phones on Hold

DESIGN
*Wayfarer Pushes on PointCast
*Big Brothers/Big Sisters

HOSTING
*Net Users Choice
*Lifetime Internet Access

MARKETING
*More Web Stats
*CNET Reports Q4 Results

TOP WEB PICKS
*Cosmopolitan
*Men’s Health
*TV Guide
*Vicinity
*AT&T 800 Directory


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TOP INDUSTRY NEWS
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*AOL Struggles On
In response to the overwhelming number of complaints and lawsuits against AOL, prosecutors from 20 states met yesterday to discuss possible solutions. In an unending streak of good timing, AOL suffered yet another outage yesterday that left all 8 million users stranded. Statistics recently released by AOL outline the problems following the introduction of flat-rate unlimited use pricing. This month, average AOL member daily usage is 32 minutes, up from 14 minutes in September 1996. Daily sessions have gone from 6 million in September to 10 million, total hours daily have gone from 1.5 million to 4.2 million, and total hours per month from 45 million to an estimated 125 million. AOL attracted a record 1.2 million net new members during the quarter ending December 31, 1996.
http://www.merc.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=1229136-7d3 http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7317,00.html

*Coalition Debunks Congestion Reports
The FCC recently hosted "The Bandwidth Forum" for high tech companies, consumers and telephone companies to address issues relating to Internet access and phone lines. The key issue is phone line bandwidth and taxation, brought to light by telephone companies and disputed by high tech companies and Internet access providers (ISPs). The Internet Access Coalition (IAC) recently released a report, conducted by Boston analyst firm Economics and Technology, which refutes earlier complaints by national telephone companies of congested lines and lost revenue opportunities. The 65 page report, funded by computer industry giants including Microsoft, Intel, AOL, Earthlink, Novell and Digital Equipment, claims telephone companies have downplayed their estimated $1.4 billion in new revenues generated directly from Internet access in 1995. Furthermore, the "telephone network meltdown" has been greatly exaggerated by using extreme situations (Silicon Valley) as the national norm. The report cites AOL’s breakdown as an example, where the problem is lack of modems and network equipment, not phone lines. According to the coalition’s report, most of the problem areas can be fixed with packet switching technology, creating one line for voice, and another for data.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7222,00.html
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7223,00.html

*Net Phones on Hold
In an attempt to close a ten-month-old debate on the use of Internet phones, The Voice on the Net Coalition, which includes members from Microsoft and VocalTec, plans to file a petition with the FCC seeking action on Internet phones, demanding action on the petition or to drop the matter entirely. ACTA, a trade organization of phone companies, originally made its bid to stop the sale of Internet telephones last May. Current Internet phone technology is limited in quality, but phone companies fear advances in audio compression will increase the popularity and threaten long-distance rates. Furthermore, unlike telephone companies, the Internet is not subject to Federal tariffs. For now, the FCC is silent on the issue. Technologies currently in development by PictureTel and Lucent Technologies will reportedly enable users of regular telephones to make a call over the Internet without initiating the call from a PC.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7192,00.html


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DESIGN
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*Wayfarer Pushes on PointCast
Wayfarer recently announced a software package and information service, called Incisa. The new product is targeted directly at the business market currently serviced by PointCast’s IServer. The client/server software is devoid of ads typical on PointCast, and offers a large degree of customization. Wayfarer will initially provide news and product information from Reuters, PR Newswire, InfoSeek, Lotus, PC Quote, and Sqribe Technologies. Incisa is available from Wayfarer and sells for $5,000 for 100 seats.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7175,00.html

*Big Brothers/Big Sisters
We are working more than ever before, and have little time left for family, friends and fun. This trend is part of a decline of the family unit. To this end, rather than donating money or other tangible resources, I decided over a year ago to donate a small amount of my free time to a favorite cause of mine: Big Brothers/Big Sisters. My commitment to the program requires 12 hours a month for 12 months. The program has offered me an opportunity to have a positive influence on an "at risk" youth. Much like other programs available today, Big Brothers/Big Sisters (a part of United Way) was relatively easy to join. If everyone donated just a little time, money or resources to a charity of their choice, think how much better this planet would be. Use your favorite search engines to find a charity of choice near you. This concludes today’s public service announcement.
http://www.infoseek.com/
http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search/options


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HOSTING
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*Net Users Choice
Internet users now have a greater selection of high-speed access options from their local phone and cable companies. Time Warner recently announced it would enter the California market by providing cable modem service in San Diego starting February 6, 1997. The service will reportedly cost $44.95 a month for service to existing cable subscribers and $49.95 a month to those without. The service will operate at speeds up to 10 mpbs, nearly 1,000 times faster than today’s highest-speed modems. Time Warner plans to expand the service to 10 additional markets by the year’s end. Similarly, @Home is rolling out its own brand of cable modem access nationally and is beefing up the features to offer live chat sessions. The service is rocket fast with a proven infrastructure, yet the bi-directional data transmission capabilities are unproven. Pacific Telesis and Bell Atlantic plan to launch a competitive service known as ADSL or asymetric digital subscriber line, which transmits at 1.5 mbps. While the service is slower, it utilizes existing phone lines for simultaneous voice and data transmission. The primary drawbacks to ADSL are high pricing and a largely untested switching technology, which is estimated to cost $100 a month. While it’s too early to tell which mode of connection will ultimately succeed.
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7262,00.html

*Lifetime Internet Access
A new player has changed the rules in the ongoing battle of Internet access pricing. Bigger.net recently announced a one flat fee of $59.95 for unlimited lifetime use. Service includes full PPP access, local dial-in access numbers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Netscape Navigator 3.01, technical support, email address and 10MB of disk storage for files. While Internet access is a one-time cost, email service will cost $10 a year. Bigger.net currently services the San Francisco area but there are plans to expand to Los Angeles and San Diego over the next two months. What’s the catch? Members have to view a 2 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch ad, which can be moved around the screen using a mouse. Customers will likely agree viewing an ad is a small price to pay for unlimited lifetime Internet access.
http://www.bigger.net


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MARKETING
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*More Web Stats
According to the latest data from Crestwoods and Associates "Inside Internet Review," the majority of Internet users have x486 PCs with an average of 77 hertz processors and 14.4 bps modems. The phone survey includes a pool of 2,000 randomly selected households throughout the U.S. The pool is divided into four primary groups: Internet avoiders, intenders, newcomers and veterans. Interestingly, the progression of processor type and modem speed are not linear when comparing the four groups. According to the data, Internet veterans are less likely to own a Pentium processor and 28,8 bps modem, compared to newcomers. This information supports current theories that Web developers may want to tone down the use of heavy graphics and animation when appealing to Internet veterans, who may not have the proper hardware and prefer an uncluttered presentation of information in the first place.
http://www.crestwoods.com

*CNET Reports Q4 Results
One of the most popular and respected online content sites, CNET, recently posted Q4 financial results, revealing another losing quarter, typical of Internet companies today. CNET has reported a net loss of $4.25 million for the fourth quarter of 1996 to end-December, compared to a net loss of $4.68 million in Q3. The losses were reported despite a 33 percent increase in quarterly revenues from $4.52m in Q3 to $6.03m in Q4. Revenues for the year to end-December 1996 were also up, reaching $14.83 million compared to $3.50 million for the previous year. Net loss for the year was also up $16.95 million compared to a net loss of $8.61million for 1995. Advertising revenues from CNET’s Web sites grew 60 percent to $4.41million in Q4 from $2.76 million in the previous quarter. The number of banner advertising units sold on CNET’s Web sites increased to 326 units a 72 percent increase over the previous quarter’s 190 units. The number of unique advertisers on CNET’s Internet sites grew to 101 in the fourth quarter from 75 in the previous quarter. CNET hopes to increase revenues with recent investments in GAMECENTER.COM and MEDIADOME. Traffic on CNET’s sites increased 55 percent to 2.28 million average daily page views from 1.47 million in the previous quarter.
http://www.mmp.co.uk/mmp/informer/netnews/HTM/124n!e.htm


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TOP WEB PICKS
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*Cosmopolitan
The online version of this famous fashion publication is finally up. The site is simple, elegant, and full of juicy tidbits. Sections include: features, weekly tips, astrology, advice, quiz, give-aways, bachelor of the month.
http://www.cosmomag.com/

*Men’s Health
The alter ego for Cosmo Online is Men’s Health Online. Modeled after the brother print publication, this site successfully transitions to the Web with new features including Recon Man, Men’s Digest, Rants and Quickies. There’s plenty of useful and entertaining information on this site.
http://www.menshealth.com/

*TV Guide
As recently discussed in Anvil Issue Fifteen, TVGuide is getting aggressive online. Their fully functional site, soon to be redesigned for WebTV, currently offers a wide variety of options. Features include online chat, crossword, feature stories, and a robust database including movies, sports and music. Most importantly, the site features customized viewer information and listing information by zip code.
http://www.tvguide.com/

*Vicinity
Vicinity offers door to door driving directions in major metropolitan areas nationwide. Directions are turn-by-turn and include detailed directions with an overview map showing the entire route. Directions are calculated in seconds, and offer users a choice of fastest, shortest or easiest routes.
http://www.vicinity.com/vicinity/driving.html

*AT&T 800 Directory
Search AT&Ts database of 150,000 businesses and organizations toll-free numbers. It’s an ideal way to comparison-shop, track down hard-to-find items and services or find a supplier. Use our Category Index to scan listings by familiar "yellow pages" categories or use our on-line Search to find businesses by name, city, or state.
http://att.net/dir800/

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