NTT Data, MCI, BT to offer global Net access for travelers

NTT Data Corp., MCI Communications Corp. and British Telecom PLC will jointly offer a new Internet Dial Roaming Service to give their subscribers easy local access to their Internet accounts while traveling abroad, the three companies said April 10.

The service, to be officially launched in July, will first be available in Japan and the United States. Business people who want to access the Internet will no longer need to contract with a local Internet service provider when they travel to these countries, they said.

For example, an NTT Data customer can access more than 300 local access points provided by MCI in the United States with the same account number, said Tomeo Kanbayashi, CEO of NTT Data. In a similar manner, MCI customers will be able to use NTT Data’s 60 access points in Japan when they travel here, they said.

The planned charge for the service in Japan is 300 yen per month for basic Internet service and 900 yen for hourly usage plus local telephone charges, the firms said. Some Internet service providers already offer similar services on a limited scale, but the new one will be the first that offers worldwide access, Kanbayashi claimed.

MCI, the second-largest U.S. long distance carrier, is based in Washington. It has a strong Internet backbone in the U.S., and last year announced plans to merge with British Telecom. The new service in Britain will be available after the merger is completed in autumn, according to Vinton Cerf, an MCI senior vice president.

Cerf said there are 35 million Internet users around the world and the number is growing rapidly. The service will enable customers to stay in touch with business partners, friends and family at any time, he said.

“We would like to expand this roaming service worldwide in the future,” Kanbayashi said. He added that the firm is currently negotiating with Asian companies including some based in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand to join in similar arrangements.