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IPA purchase of OnThe.Net brings additional services

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by Abigail L. Beggerly

SBJ Staff

Three thousand Ozarks web browsers have a new service provider after the Aug. 31 acquisition of OnThe.Net by Arkansas-based Internet Partners of America.

Those who used OnThe.Net as an Internet provider will now be dialing up to a server provided by IPA. Springfield was chosen by IPA because of its location within the company's operational area, said Scott Winter, vice president of marketing and sales at IPA.

"It fits into our plan of operation, which is Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri," Winter said.

OnThe.Net is still operating in Springfield, but is now concentrating on web page design and maintenance instead of being an Internet service provider, Winter said.

Changes in service for former OnThe.Net customers include a seven-day-a-week technical-support line, upgrades in technology, such as modems, and a toll-free national access number. IPA offers a 56k, fully digital Internet network throughout southwest Missouri, Winter said.

The access number will provide IPA users the ability to connect to e-mail and the Internet from remote locations away from home. Selected areas in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri will be included in the local calling area.

To prepare for the 3,000 new cus-

tomers in southwest Missouri and for the approaching colder months, when more users will be online, IPA recently upgraded its dial-up and dedicated-line services.

"The upgrade will give us a great deal of bandwidth to the backbone," said Winter.

IPA has approximately 21,000 dial-up network users, with 300 using the dedicated-line services the company offers. IPA already has a substantial customer base, but it is part of its business plan to pick up business in cities like Springfield, Winter said.

Although IPA's dial-up and dedicated services may be new to Springfield, Springfield is not new to the company.

"We've been talking to OnThe.Net for over 18 months now," Winter said. "We were looking to see what we could do with a type of merger or acquisition."

Merging with existing Internet service providers has helped to increase IPA's customer base. "It's a way to build your base spontaneously," Winter said. "You can virtually increase your customer base overnight."

When negotiations began between the two companies, several factors were examined.

"We looked at the network structure, the geographic positioning for the company's client base, potential growth, the products and services, and the potential for IPA to increase those products and services," Winter said.

"We see if it's a good fit for IPA, and if it is, then everyone wins."

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