Netscape Communications Corp. and five of the nation's largest Regional Bell Operating Companies today announced a far-reaching plan to market Internet access through the RBOCs' base of 72 million customers in 26 states, with Netscape's Navigator serving as the default browser.
Ameritech Corp., Bell Atlantic Corp., BellSouth Corp., Pacific Telesis Group and SBC Communications Inc. (Southwestern Bell) signed pacts with Netscape, delivering the Navigator browser to RBOC Internet service customers in 15 of the nation's 20 largest telephone service markets. (Customers will also be able to use Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser if they wish.)
The plan will enable consumers to select their regional telephone company as an ISP (Internet service provider) through the new ISP Select feature on Navigator, which will guide users through the process of creating an account. Customers receiving Internet access through the RBOCs would also gain free access to Netscape's In-Box Direct customized E-mail news delivery service, Netscape officials said in a press conference today.
ISP Select users will also have the option of having fees for Internet access applied to their telephone bills, officials of the companies said.
The news sent Netscape shares up $5, to $65, in midday trading today.
Netscape is based in Mountain View, Calif.