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AOL, GRIC Ink Global Roaming Pact

America Online Inc. and IP solutions provider GRIC Communications Inc. on Monday signed an Internet roaming agreement in a bid to expand AOL's international presence.

Terms of the pact call for GRIC to provide 700 points-of-presence (POPs) in 48 countries to AOL members. The POPs are available via the GRIC Alliance, a network of more than 400 Internet service providers and telephone companies. The service will become available next year.

A GRIC spokesman declined to comment on the contract's length or financial details.

The company's Internet roaming service is aimed at travelers who dial into the Internet while away from home. Rather than dial a long distance number from home to access the Internet, a customer under the GRIC program can dial into the closest POP in the GRIC network, avoiding long distance charges.

"One of the greatest values of AOL membership is the unmatched accessibility of our network around the world," said Jack Davies, president of AOL International. "With the AOL membership continuing to grow rapidly outside the U.S., the agreement with GRIC will allow us to continue to offer our members additional access points."

"The AOL/GRIC alliance is very complementary," said Hong Chen, GRIC Communications' chairman and chief executive officer. "Both AOL members and GRIC Alliance members worldwide will greatly benefit from the enhanced service offerings enabled by our new relationship."

Milpitas, Calif.-based GRIC Communications, Inc. provides multiple IP-based services for carriers and Internet service providers internationally. GRIC offers an integrated, global infrastructure for secure settlement, network management, roaming, fax and telephony services to more than 400 telcos, PTTs and ISPs in the GRIC Alliance. The privately-held company has more than 3,000 POPs in over 120 countries.