Small Business News Briefs

Monday Nov 3rd 2003 by SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff
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BellSouth and Nortel Networks grow their voice relationship, Panda Softwares goes platinum with a suite of anti-virus systems, and broadband service providers are battling for every buck in the SME market.

BellSouth, Nortel Grow Voice Relationship
Nortel Networks has extended its relationship with BellSouth, the third largest phone company in the U.S., to supply Internet protocol (IP) telephony solutions to mid-market customers. Through a packaged offering, Nortel Networks and BellSouth plan to provide small- and medium-sized businesses with voice and data convergence options designed to help them migrate to IP communications infrastructures.

"For 21 years, BellSouth and Nortel Networks have worked together to provide business customers with comprehensive voice solutions," said Dick Anderson, president of customer networks at BellSouth. "Now we are offering an expanded portfolio that allows customers to utilize their communications investments and migrate toward converged networks at their own pace as their business needs dictate. "

Included in BellSouth's packaged IP migration solutions are Nortel Networks Business Communications Manager converged voice and data platform and Nortel Networks Norstar Integrated Communications Systems. Together, these products give small- and medium-sized businesses a choice of pursuing either an IP-enabled or pure IP convergence strategy. These solutions also offer unified messaging capabilities, multimedia contact center options, integrated security, firewall measures and wireless capabilities.

To date, Nortel Networks and BellSouth have deployed over 40,000 SMB equipment solutions. The combined networking capabilities of these solutions from BellSouth and Nortel Networks create an integrated, centralized platform for voice and data communications, messaging and management. As a result, businesses of all sizes can benefit from a solution that is more cost effective than running multiple, overlay networks.

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Panda Goes Platinum
Offering a new lineup of security products that address small business anti-virus needs, Panda Software's new Platinum Internet Security system targets a variety of Internet-borne threats.

Platinum's UltraFast scan engine guarantees its anti-virus performance with a minimal use of system resources. It automatically detects and eliminates viruses from inbound and outbound e-mail, or when browsing the Internet and downloading files. The personal firewall combats hackers and outside attacks that exploit vulnerable communication ports. The spam block feature prevents inbox saturation and Panda provides "True Daily" automatic updates that keep computer systems protected at all times against new viruses.

"Platinum Internet Security is our most professional product to help catch the viruses that others miss. Many people believe that their anti-virus solution is protecting them when it isn't, " said Riggs Eckelberry, general manager of Panda Software U.S. "The ThreatFocus Security Network reported this week that new exploits are expected for recent Microsoft vulnerabilities, which just means that we're in for increased virus threats. Hackers won't stop unless we stop them."

Platinum Internet Security also has anti-spyware technology, designed to protect privacy by blocking snooping applications. A proactive desktop warning alerts users to new viruses and security threats. In addition, Titanium Anti-virus 2004 includes free around the clock technical support for one year.

Panda Platinum Internet Security retails for $69.95. Would-be users can "Take the Panda Challenge," a free scan and repair tool to check their computers for viruses.

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Broadband Providers Battle for SMEs
Cable modem and digital subscriber line (DSL) services will be the key drivers for broadband growth in the small and medium enterprise (SME) markets, presenting a $10-15 billion opportunity over the next five to 10 years, according to a new report released by Pacific Research Institute and the New Millennium Research Council.

The report assesses how well SMEs are being served while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers whether to carve out a separate product market segment for SMEs. The report, Being Served: Broadband Competition in the Small and Medium Sized Business Market, shows that the outlook for broadband services in the SME segment is strong, with 43 percent of very small businesses, 49 percent of small businesses, and 59 percent of medium businesses expected to increase their Internet usage in the next year.

"The SME market is well served by multiple broadband providers and competition is expected to grow more intensely over the next few years," said Sonia Arrison, director of technology studies at the Pacific Research Institute and the report's author. "Given these facts, it does not make sense for the FCC to carve out a separate product market segment for SMEs. Instead, the FCC should allow this market to continue to develop without further government involvement."

"Small businesses will spend about $6 billion in 2003 for wireline data services, a 20-percent increase over 2002," Arrison said. "By 2006, In-Stat/MDR projects small businesses will spend nearly $9.8 billion on these services." She notes the SME market is likely to become a battleground for broadband providers over the next two years as the economy improves.

The study also finds that small- and medium-sized businesses are a geographically diverse group and are fairly evenly distributed among urban, suburban, small town, and rural locations. Additionally, small business use of Internet services is expected to grow 74 percent by the beginning of 2004. Half of these businesses indicate that they expect to buy broadband in the form of cable modem services.

The SME market is highly competitive between DSL and cable modem providers as well as from competitive local exchange carriers and satellite Internet providers. Sixty-two percent of cable operators surveyed said they offered some kind of broadband services aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses. Analysts believe cable operators can capture 30- to 50-percent of this segment over time.

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