Just two weeks after launching its high-speed
asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line service, Cincinnati Bell Inc. has added an
interactive enhancement called "ZoomTown."
ZoomTown is an online "community" used in
conjunction with Cincinnati Bell's ADSL offering, called "Zoom."
With ZoomTown, customers will be able to connect to either
an Internet-service provider or virtual-private network simultaneously, as well as
shopping, banking or contacting their doctor. In the near future, users will be able to
connect ZoomTown to their corporate networks, facilitating telecommuting, the telco said.
Subscribers can also access online gaming sites and fast
online data backups for protection in case of hard-disk failure.
Businesses located on ZoomTown will incorporate interactive
applications, real-time video, person-to-person customer service, electronic commerce, IP
(Internet-protocol) telephony and digital identification for secure transfers.
Cincinnati Bell has aggressively priced its ADSL offering,
ranging from $29.95 per month for a 384-kilobit-per-second service to $159.95 for a
Although the low-end service is clearly targeted toward
residential consumers, the high-end tiers were definitely created with the business
customer in mind, said Bob Hafner, vice president and research director for Gartner Group,
a Stamford, Conn.-based research company. Hafner added that the telecommuting service
would go a long way toward capturing even more business customers.
"The majority of users should be business telecom
users," Hafner said. "The pricing is targeted clearly beyond what the typical
Internet surfer is going to pay. They're going to get power users who are on the net
all the time."
The ability to connect to corporate and virtual-private
networks simultaneously with an ISP also could be a big advantage, Hafner said.
"That clearly says that they are targeting the
telecommuter who has a corporate requirement and who also wants ISP capabilities for part
of their jobs," he said. "That is probably the most unique component."
The Zoom ADSL service is available to about one-third of
Cincinnati Bell's customers in Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. The company
plans to make the service available to 85 percent of its customers by the end of next