The corporate arm of @Home Corp – the Mountain View, California- based cable modem poster boy – has kept remarkably quiet about its ambitions and plans since the company was formed about 18 months ago, but now @Work, as it’s known, says it wants to be as big as Worldcom Inc. Last week @Work tapped Netcom Corp’s former senior VP strategic partnerships Don Hutchison to be its senior VP and general manager of @Work, reporting to @Home chairman and CEO Tom Jermoluk. Hutchison reportedly turned down numerous offers from other hi-tech companies including a bunch of east coast opportunities with more established telecom and internet players to join @Home, which already houses a lot of executives that have deserted large Silicon Valley players for more intimate surroundings. He wants to make @Work into a big Internet Service Provider (ISP) player and believes the de-centralized nature of @Home’s network is key to this happening. The company built its network from scratch, which Hutchison reckons would prevent the likes of Netcom and PSINet ever pulling off what @Work plans. For those companies it would be a bit like driving down the freeway with your passenger leaning out the window trying to re-build the road at the same time, he says. Hutchison has a variety of services planned.
First up is straight internet connectivity for corporates, simply being an ISP. Secondly the company is currently piloting a tele- commuting service with employees of Sun Microsystems Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co. That service, called Network Remote is expected to roll-out this year. Next up will be distributed hosting for @Work’s partners. Again, de-centralized is best here, Hutchison reckons, and it sets it apart from other ISPs. He said the local focus is an advantage with web hosting because customers want as few PoPs as possible to go through. With @Work’s network of caching servers all over the country we can do that better than any ISP, says Hutchison. Another service @Work plans is multi-casting, whereby desktops in a distributed corporate environment receive broadcasts simultaneously, rather than having to gather everybody in a room for a satellite link or some sort of broadcast. This needs high bandwidth, and Hutchison reckons the company can achieve transmission speeds of around 256Kbps, which would result in 15 frames per second and upwards at the desktop. Other, more distant plans include internet telephony and video telephony, that old chestnut that keeps coming back only to be thwarted by lack of bandwidth. Hutchison promises that the company is not going to grow slowly. The business plan in terms of the balance between the @Home consumer side and @Work side is still a bit soft. The ideal split would be 50-50, but that’s pretty difficult to achieve, says Hutchison. But what @Work does not want to do is to flip-flop between the consumer and business sides dominating year after year. The cable modem technology that had made @Home what it is so far will be used in the Remote Network tele-commuting service and other technologies will be employed, with ADSL Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Loop first up. Of course, in order to get as big as Worldcom – $4.5bn revenues and rising – you need to bolt on acquisitions, and Hutchison said I don’t think acquisitions are beyond us. Which of course means an IPO, which is also on the cards, but Hutchison would not be drawn on when. https://www.home.net