Kiosk Newsbit

Hot line to the Internet
(Dominion; 05/18/98)

A phone with ready access to the Internet arrives next month


   NETLINK and Tele Pos will introduce New Zealand's first Internet phone next 

   The iPhone - an Internet-ready communications appliance - is a telephone 
with a difference.

   A touchscreen and keyboard give users access to e-mail, news, weather, stock 
quotes, shopping, travel reservations, and Web information.

   Tele Pos is offering the CIDCO manufactured devices for resale and rental. 
NetLink is acting as the Internet host for iPhones nationwide.

   NetLink product development manager Don Guthrie says iPhones plug into a 
standard phone jack and power supply and will work anywhere in New Zealand.

   Software, modem and Internet access are built into the devices, while an 
integrated browser allows easy information retrieval from the World Wide Web.

   The phone is always ready to use; there is no need to start up a special 
program, Mr Guthrie says.

   Though iPhones will be targeted at all Internet users, including home 
consumers, NetLink is best known as a corporate Internet specialist.

   Owned by Victoria University's commercial entity, Victoria Link, the company 
provides Internet hosting services to almost 70 per cent of New Zealand's top 
50 companies.

   NetLink employs 30 staff and consultants (up from seven a year ago) in 
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It manages its own national backbone and 
international links, with nodes in the main centres, Hamilton and Dunedin.

   Services offered by NetLink include dial-up connections, ISDN, wireless 
(radio), and wired high speed connectivity to businesses and Internet service 
providers nationwide. NetLink also provides Internet consulting.

   As well as corporates, NetLink customers include 70 per cent of government 
departments, 60 per cent of New Zealand's tertiary institutions, 75 per cent of 
the trading banks, several foreign embassies - and one cutting edge karate 
club, Mr Guthrie says.

   NetLink hosts New Zealand's first online pizza company - Hell Pizza - and a 
co-venture between Tradenz and the ANZ Bank which publishes currency 
information for exporters.

   NetLink will soon be the first ISP to offer connections to customers of 
Lower Hutt cable television and telephone company Saturn Communications.

   Mr Guthrie says the company hosts more CityLink connections than all of the 
other ISPs combined.

   He says business demand for Internet access is insatiable as organisations 
become more dependent on the information superhighway to exchange information 
with staff, suppliers, and customers.

   "Just 12 to 18 months ago businesses saw the Internet as a somewhat flaky 
option - certainly not an essential communications tool. Now it's critical. If 
a company's Internet connection is down, users soon let the IT department 

   As staff become more dependent on the Internet, managers are turning to 
software and services to monitor its use. "We encourage clients to treat the 
Internet like the telephone - at the end of the day you have to trust workers 
to use it responsibly," Mr Guthrie says.

   "The best approach seems to be to log Internet use and let people know that 
it's being monitored."

   Most employers do not mind if staff exchange personal e-mail on company 
systems, but draw the line at pretty graphics that erode network resources. "If 
they proliferate they can cause big problems for mail servers," he says. "They 
use a lot of hard disk space."

   Exposure to viruses from information transmitted across the Internet is well 
controlled by special software, but security remains a risk for organisations 
that lack adequate safeguards.

   NetLink undertakes security audits for clients, using remote tools to probe 
networks for weaknesses, as a hacker would, Mr Guthrie says.

   "Security is a job that's never done, especially for clients with permanent 
Internet connections. It's a matter of refining security to a point where you 
feel comfortable with your level of exposure."

Thanks Kinetic!

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