Virginia program has telecom deals

Virginia program has telecom deals

Consortium offers businesses flat rates and multimedia access

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

Businesses in Virginia that join the new VirginiaLink Consortium will be eligible for the commonwealth's fledgling broadband telecommunications access program.

Virginia Secretary of Technology Donald Upson announced the inception of VirginiaLink and the buyers consortium in December.

VirginiaLink is a multivendor, broad-based program that offers businesses in the state'including service resellers and Internet service providers'advanced telecommunications systems at bargain prices.

How to join the VirginiaLink Consortium

' Virginia businesses can join through March 31 for $100 per location, with a maximum cost per company of $1,000.

' Service resellers and Internet service providers can join for $500 per location, with a maximum cost of $2,500.

' Those interested can register through the VirginiaLink Web site, at

The new program delivers statewide access regardless of location and pricing that is not tied to distance.

The technology offered includes Internet access and has capacity for voice, video and data communications.

Across the state

Under separate agreements, MCI WorldCom Inc. and Sprint Corp. will offer members service for distance-insensitive broadband coverage across the state. Corporate officials said a pending merger of the companies would not affect the agreements.

MCI WorldCom views the move as an extension of the support contract it holds with Virginia, said Jim Nystrom, executive manager of MCI WorldCom Government Markets.

'VirginiaLink allows businesses to upgrade technology without the cost involved and allows access to services at deeply discounted rates,' Nystrom said. 'We offer statewide access at a flat rate.'

X amount

The system lets businesses that use dial-up connections upgrade at a fraction of the cost, Nystrom said.

'If they are paying x amount today, tomorrow they can be paying x amount for a better product,' he said.

Negotiations with other potential vendors continue, said Jean Diehl Woods, executive director of the VirginiaLink Consortium at the Center for Innovative Technology, which will oversee the administration of contracts with providers and market VirginiaLink.

'This network will extend high-technology services to all points of Virginia,' said Jerry Edgerton, senior vice president of MCI WorldCom government markets. 'It will help the state create high-tech, good-paying jobs for its citizens and will help Virginia truly become the Digital Dominion.'

Dave Berry, senior vice president of Sprint, said the program will help the state remain competitive.

'Access to affordable communication lies at the heart of competitiveness,' Berry said. 'VirginiaLink will deliver real business advantages across the commonwealth of Virginia.'

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will offer technical support for the program. The school has overseen a similar program, NetWork Virginia, for public-sector and educational organizations for three years.

The VirginiaLink offering, however, is strictly commercial'companies contracting with companies.

The state's role is simply as a catalyst to help Virginia businesses become more competitive. 'Access to bandwidth is the lifeblood of today's digital economy, and every segment of today's industry is faced with ever-increasing bandwidth demands,' Upson said.

The Center for Innovative Technology tagged Virginia Tech to help develop the next line of advanced telecom services, based on emerging technologies.

'We are moving on to the next generation,' said Patricia Jackson, director of external programs at Virginia Tech. 'The cycles keep getting shorter. I think we'll see something in around 18 months.'

Sign up

Through March 31, the cost to join the consortium through March 31 is $100 per business location, with a maximum cost of $1,000 per business. Service resellers and Internet service providers can join as well for $500 per location, with a $2,500 maximum.

VirginiaLink officials said businesses throughout the state will benefit from the program.

'Convergence technologies continue to blur the lines among once-distinct voice, data and video communications,' said Timothy Ambrosino, president of Mariah Vision3 Entertainment of Norfolk, Va. 'Initiatives such as VirginiaLink will accelerate and enhance business-to-business communications.'

Businesses can join the Virginia consortium through VirginiaLink's Web site, at

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