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VOL. 114 | NO. 51 | Wednesday, March 15, 2000

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By SUZANNE THOMPSON New ISP offers major benefits to Memphians By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Its a story as old as entrepreneurship itself a couple of people become unhappy with services received from a company, so they decide to team up and do it themselves. That was the driving force behind Major Internet, a new Memphis Internet service provider. Jim Daniels, owner of J&D Roofing, and Dr. Joe Holley, director of emergency services at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Collierville, were both unhappy with the service they were getting from their ISPs. After doing some research, they discovered that many of the services provided by ISPs are outsourced. With the goal of keeping everything local, the partners decided to invest in their own routers and servers, and provide technical support from their offices on Oakhaven Circle in East Memphis. "We do it all right here," Daniels said. Using its own equipment and technical support, as opposed to outsourcing all of its services, places Major Internet in a different category than most local ISPs. ISPs are divided into tiers according to the level of service they provide. The Tier 1 classification is reserved for companies known as the backbone of the Internet, like AT&T, which own the cable through which most Internet activity passes. Tier 2 providers are those such as Major Internet, those who own their own equipment and provide access through their local service center. Tier 3 providers offer access to the Internet through third-party providers. As a Tier 2 provider, Major Internet is able to cut out one layer of charges, and offers a $13.95 monthly dial-up charge, which is lower than many ISPs. Because company employees are close to the equipment, they can closely monitor system activity and can assure customers will not get a busy signal. Thats why Major Internet is able to guarantee no busy signal to its customers, Daniels said. Another unique aspect of Major Internet is its marketing strategy. Daniels calls the method a "global marketing program," which is basically a customer referral incentive. For each paying customer referred, consumers receive $1 off their monthly bill. Customers who refer more than 14 new customers receive free service, and for additional referrals, Major Internet pays $1 each. "Its networking without networking," said Bill Turri, vice president of design and development. Major Internet also offers Web design services. The most basic of these is a Web card. This service is ideal for people who want to have an Internet presence but who dont need a full-blown Web site with multiple pages. The fee for designing a Web card is $150. Business Web site design is $39.95 per month, plus a flat fee that depends upon the number of pages desired. Daniels and Holley want their customers to understand what they are paying for with the monthly fee is Web site management, more than the design itself. Major Internet will provide its customers with a Web trend sheet, which tracks the activity on the site. "A site is a business," Daniels said. Micromanagement of an established site is as important as the sites design. Holley compares spending a lot for Web design and not managing the site to investing in a billboard and putting it in a cow pasture. Providing Web management service means educating the consumers on what they should be getting, he said. "Were really pushing the educational approach," Holley said. Major Internet opened for business Jan. 1. So far, the company has won every bid for Web design it has submitted, Holley said. Although company officials are already looking to expand to the Nashville market, Holley said the partners feel strongly about keeping service local. An office in Nashville would mean customers there would receive local support too. "We are a local provider. Thats what we want to be," he said. Major Internet wants to keep the emphasis on service, Daniels said. The company is so serious about its commitment to customer service that it encourages people to bring their computers into the store if they have problems, and a staff member will remedy the problem. Company representatives also will make house calls to repair computers. "Im 100 percent confident we have the best quality service in town," Holley said.
PROPERTY SALES 120 120 16,027
MORTGAGES 64 64 9,986
BUILDING PERMITS 203 206 38,142
BANKRUPTCIES 21 28 7,500