Xtra, Compuserve discuss content collaboration

The possibility of Telecom Xtra subscribers gaining access to Compuserve content has been raised at a meeting in Auckland.

The possibility of Telecom Xtra subscribers gaining access to CompuServe content has been raised at a meeting in Auckland.

Allen Sibley and Colin Wallis, the heads of CompuServe in Australia and New Zealand respectively, have met Xtra's Chris Tyler to discuss potential uses for CompuServe's new RPA "Virtual Passport".

One of the cornerstones of the Ohio-based online service's shift away from proprietary technology, RPA (Remote Passphrase Authentication) allows users from other networks to access CompuServe services. The company is seeking to make it an Internet standard.

"We briefed Chris on what RPA could do and gave him some examples of how it could work," says Wallis. "We simply wanted to introduce him to the idea. Xtra is the only New Zealand Internet provider to have made a major play towards content, so we'd obviously want to speak to them."

Xtra's current business model sees all its sites open to free access, but there has been little growth in new content on its Website since the service launched. RPA would make possible subscriber access to local Websites, licensing of third-party content and even "bartering" of content between service providers.

CompuServe regional managers have been instructed to discuss RPA and content sharing as part of the company's separation of its network and content business, but Wallis says the company will not follow Microsoft and get out of the access business.

"There's no chance of that happening, because the big difference is that CompuServe's network has a lot more value-adds than Microsoft's did--or Apple eWorld for that matter. The CompuServe network will actually be added to to enhance services like virtual private networking for large corporates."

CompuServe's new CIM 3.0 access software, which includes RPA and other of its "Red Dog" technologies, will be bundled with the latest "OEM refresh" for Windows 95, which goes to Gold Master next month and will start shipping on new PCs in September. Wallis says he will be advising existing local CompuServe subscribers to wait "six weeks or so" after the Windows 95 release before upgrading.

"By then we'll have CIM 3.0 for Win 32, Windows 3.x and the Macintosh all on one CD. By then we'll also be seeing Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0, with CIM 3.0 integrated into it. It'll be worth waiting a few weeks."

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