NaviPath Closes Doors on Dial Up…Very Quietly

Wholesale dial-up provider NaviPath is going out of business at the end of
the month, as scores of Internet service providers (ISPs) are finding out
this week from outside sources.

It’s still not clear whether the CMGI-owned company is going completely out
of business or just eliminating one of many divisions within the aggregate
provider’s purview. The company also markets its infrastructure and value
add services to ISPs.

NaviPath officials, namely its director of wholesale access services, Steve
Smith, refused repeated requests for information about the extent of the
shutdown or even if they were closing the doors for good. The company’s
public relations firm, Sterling Hager Inc., also did not return repeated
phone calls. ISPs which attempted to reach the company via NaviPath’s Web
site found the phone number no longer works.

The emails started going out Monday to ISPs by another wholesale provider,
YourNetPlus.com. It seems Level3, an international network carrier, was
recently contacted by NaviPath officials to take over its dial up operations.

While Level3 agreed to take some of the ISPs onto their network, their
eligibility criteria left out many of the smaller providers around the
U.S. All told, somewhere around 400 ISPs would not have a nationwide
footprint of POP servers for their far-flung customers to dial in for
Internet services.

Bill Calamia, YourNetPlus executive vice president, said his company was
more than willing to pick up the 400 potential customers from Level3.

“I was on the phone with NaviPath, and I remember them telling me they were
sending all their ISPs for Level3 to pick up,” Calamia said. “I said that
if Level3 didn’t want them, that’d we’d take the ones that they didn’t
want. (NaviPath) did make the effort to make sure their customers weren’t
left without a network at the end of the month.”

To handle the influx of new ISP customers, YourNetPlus is adding
approximately 1,700 NaviPath POP server numbers from Level3, bringing its
total to more than 5,300 dial in access numbers. Calamia boasts that this
footprint is nearly as large as the dial up presence of network giant UUNet.

NaviPath, owned by CMGI Inc., and backed up by stakeholders Compaq
Computer Corp. and Lucent Technologies, has until this week been a
relatively quiet wholesale dial up provider. While competitors like
MegaPOP, Broadwing and FlexPOP Inc., were building up their broadband and
network coverage, NaviPath was taking a path less traveled.

Citing the need for improved dial up connections, NaviPath embarked on a
nationwide update to its servers to the v.92 and v.44 modem standards
earlier this year. The chipset enhancements, which were a definite upgrade
from the v.90 modem standard, was met with little enthusiasm by ISPs and
little immediate support from modem manufacturers.

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