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October 1998

An IP Network Of Networks

GRIC Communications, Inc., (Milpitas, CA) offers Internet telecommunications over a global network created through an alliance of over 350 ISPs and telcos worldwide, including major telephone companies such as Belgacom, o.tel.o (Germany), and interCom Danmark. The GRIC network has provided roaming, faxing, and settlement services since 1996; the introduction of IP telephony in 1997 is part of GRIC's move into offering multiple services on a single platform. GRICphone, the new service, presently offers PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone calling capabilities.

With members in more than 100 countries, and an aggregate subscriber base of more than 16 million dial-up users and millions of corporate users, the GRIC alliance is, by company estimates, the largest native TCP/IP network offering Internet-based telecommunications services in the world. The GRIC network allows service providers to quickly expand services into new countries, lowering the costs of international calls, and setting up a network ready for future IP telephony-based applications such as video teleconferencing and voice mail.

Internet telephony promises to be an exciting and profitable market. In order to deliver on that promise, however, it must offer the same level of service and accessibility as the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) in terms of ubiquity, interoperability, settlement, and billing capabilities. Ubiquity will be achieved by the growing reach of the Internet and the expanding list of suppliers of IP telephony services and products that use standards such as H.323.

A number of major Internet telephony equipment manufacturers have announced technology alliances with GRIC Communications to establish a "GRIC-ready" specification, and to build GRIC-ready Internet telephony products. This enables GRICphone members to choose platforms from among the best vendors in the industry. In addition, GRIC Communications does not take just a single approach to providing network quality of service (QoS). GRIC has the ability to customize QoS solutions based on a GRICphone member's individual network performance and business requirements.

Through GRIC's open, standards-based approach to network design and its relationships with Internet telephony manufacturers, the platforms GRIC members select today are designed to be compatible with future platform releases. This translates to longer product life and higher returns on investment for GRICphone. To assist service providers in offering GRICphone, GRIC offers a total Internet telephony solution, including network design, deployment assistance, maintenance, customer care solutions, and cooperative marketing.

GRICphone software engineers have developed an advanced network-level authentication architecture to ensure that subscribers have ready access to their IP-based telephony services wherever they travel. Global roaming provides local-call access to long-distance telephone services even when subscribers have traveled outside the serving area of their home providers.

GRICphone's policy-based routing allows calls to be optimally routed through the network based on a variety of factors such as least cost, network availability, service level agreement, or preferred partner. Most importantly, GRIC puts the control of these routing policies into the hands of those who need it most: The gateway operators.

Unlike the "sender-keeps-all" model that dominates the Internet today, settlement provides a means of compensating gateway operators for the cost of both originating and terminating calls. This model provides a greater incentive for operators to maintain quality and to add new capacity and services as customer demand dictates.

No service can survive without accurate and timely management and billing information. GRICbilling is a complete user management and billing solution for service providers. Drawing on the real-world experience of seasoned ISPs, GRICbilling incorporates a variety of tools to help operators manage growth and improve efficiency.

Based upon an open and modular architecture, GRICbilling is fully configurable and highly scalable. Features include flexible pricing and billing, service plan management, automatic account setup and maintenance over distributed servers, distributed Internet usage collection and processing, real-time billing (credit and debit card), and provisioning of multiple services.

A network that isn't working isn't generating revenues. The GRIC network is designed with survivability and scalability in mind. But even carrier-class products fail occasionally, and that's why GRIC has instituted a 24x7 network operations center. When a problem surfaces in the GRICphone network, the goal is to troubleshoot the problem before the first trouble ticket is logged.

GRIC's goal is to be the industry's preferred total solution vendor, including global telephony, roaming and faxing, technology partnerships, and carrier-class products and networks. GRIC provides routing, authentication, network management, billing, and settlement services through an intelligent platform of distributed services and software, supporting the concept of "one account, global access, multiple services, on a single bill." For more information, visit GRIC's Web site at www.gric.com or send e-mail to [email protected].

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