SAN MATEO (03/09/2000) - IBM Corp. today took yet another step in its EON (Edge Of Network) Internet access appliance initiative via an agreement with two telecommunications companies and two Internet service providers. IBM will begin a trial roll-out of an appliance composed of a 10-inch color monitor and a keyboard with direct, broadband DSL access to the Internet, according to IBM.
Bell Atlantic, SBC Communication, LaserLink.net, and Planet Computer, have all signed on to pilot the appliance with selected clients.
"We'll be deploying these systems to customers of SBC who want a simpler Internet option," said Sean Dennis, a spokesperson for SBC. "Many companies want high-speed Internet connections for those employees that don't possess very good PC skills."
It is not yet known if the arrangement with SBC and its customers for the IBM EON broadband Internet service will require the user to purchase the hardware, or if it will be provided free, except for the cost of the Internet service.
Dennis did hint that the arrangement would be similar to the SBC's basic eMessage service, which delivers email only. According to Dennis, eMessage customers are required to pay for the hardware as well as the Internet access.
"Hosted applications with good Internet access is the wave of the future," said James Smith, a representative of Bell Atlantic. "We've seen on all fronts that rather than have an application of your own, it's best to just go out to the Web and gauge it."
Bell Atlantic will make its billing decisions for the IBM EON broadband Internet service on a deal-by-deal basis with regard to who pays for hardware and who does not, according to Smith.
"IBM needed to test its dumb terminal and they needed to try various paths to reach these customers who don't want or don't require a full PC," said Smith.
IBM officials confirmed the multiple agreement was in fact another move forward for the EON initiative, much like a recent trial run with Fidelity Investments, in which Fidelity customers were given the iCruiser, a member of the EON family of Internet appliances. However, no mention of the word EON is found in any of today's announcements, and representatives for both Bell Atlantic and SBC said the systems they have received are unbranded.
IBM Corp., based in Armonk, New York, is at http://www.ibm.com.
Dan Neel is an InfoWorld reporter.