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May 24, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Distributed communications start-up X.Com Ltd of London has launched its first product, Packet/3270, an SNA micro-to mainframe link from Packet PC Inc, Cincinnati, Ohio, that enables MS-DOS micros to emulate IBM 3279 terminals via national and international packet-switching networks. X.Com was established last year, with authorised capital of UKP50,000, from former employees of London-based Langton Videotex Ltd. The company is going after marginal users of micro-to-mainframe links such as those working from remote locations – field staff, people working from home – and anyone who doesn’t require to link up with a mainframe on a regular basis. According to X.Com sales and marketing director Grahame Erskine, X.Com is only using distribution as a springboard for moving into other communications areas: it intends to offer a consultancy service and ultimately to develop its own products. This year X.Com expects about 75% of its projected 1987 turnover of UKP150,000 to come from its distribution activities and the rest from consultancy work. Consultancy activities mainly involve network design projects and advising foreign companies wanting to break into the UK market. X.Com is currently negotiation joint ventures with network manufacturers and says other distribution deals in the network systems security area are pending. The company intends to become a well established UK outfit before moving into manufacturing and is hoping to move cautiously to avoid developing never fly products. But if its other distribution deals are like its first then this side of the company’s business is unlikely to offer much scope for growth outside the UK market: Packet PC Inc’s deal with X.Comm is a sole UK distributor arrangement and the company uses other supply channels in the US. Packet/3270 was shipped to Europe via local distributors a year ago. It enables the user to dial the nearest X25 packet assembler-disassembler, log onto the network and connect to the host. It supports standard protocols including SNA and async and is available under MVS, VM and VSE. Facilities include standard IBM file transfer and printing support and API. Prices starts at UKP13,000.

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