Multimedia product distributor Multimedia Technology is aiming to cash in on impending low-cost ISDN access from Telstra through a partnership with ISDN specialist, Ticom.
It will soon begin distributing Columbus, an internal ISDN modem card from German com-pany IDK that takes advantage of Telstra's soon to be rolled out OnRamp low-cost ISDN access method.
Ticom managing director Wolfgang Bartelt said the first Columbus product comes with software drivers for Windows 95 and NT, providing full ISDN communication capabilities at 64Kbit/sec or 128Kbit/sec. The product is designed primarily for internet access and is packaged with Microsoft Internet Explorer, but also has an interface to the remote access facilities of Windows 95 and NT. It has a retail price of $399.
Bartelt says the Telstra OnRamp service itself carries a once only connection fee of $295, with line rental then coming in between $60 and $180 per month. Call charges are approximately $2 per hour in peak periods and $1 per hour off peak for local calls. He says this makes ISDN a far more affordable option than that currently available.
He said future releases of Columbus will see enhanced functionality. "Columbus is actually a product family. Later on there will be another version which will be called Columbus Word, that will provide additional text capability, high-speed file transfer, voice support, and some more utilities. Then later we will have Columbus Gold, which is a card that also allows analog devices to be connected to the PC." This means a standard fax machine or telephone could be connected to the ISDN link. Both products will appear before the middle of this year. Bartelt said that the combination of low-cost ISDN access through OnRamp combined with the Columbus product will open a new market to resellers, hence the distribution arrangement.
Multimedia Technology sales manager Brent Crooks said the Columbus products are part of his company's push into the communications arena. He said although there will be a training program available for resellers, the card really is quite simple to set up. "It's not unlike your normal conventional modem card, so it won't be that difficult to understand, but there will be written documentation to train our dealer as well."
Multimedia Technology will open the products to its reseller database of 2500 dealers, but will initially concentrate on certain specialist resellers in each state.
Crooks believes the products will find a market among users tired of sluggish Internet response through telephone lines, who would be interested in upgrading to a 128Kbit/sec ISDN line.
While Columbus comes packaged with software to allow Internet surfing, Crooks said Multimedia Technology will release an additional software package which also allows users to add faxing, file transfer, and voice capabilities.