A note from our sponsor ... Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002

Imagine your refrigerator linked directly to the supermarket or your TV able to find specific programming on its own. Such Net-driven appliances are just a part of what promises to be an exciting future for the Internet.

There's much to come -- and much learn. That's why Nauticom, one of Pittsburgh's first and largest Internet Service Providers, is pleased to sponsor SBN's first "Guide to the e-Future," which is filled with insight into what's yet to come.

The Internet has revolutionized the way the world does business. Its doors are always open, allowing companies of all sizes to enjoy unprecedented control and convenience, efficiency and speed of delivery, and an ever-increasing variety and quality of content -- all with relatively simple navigation and operation.

But the Internet is not just about business. You can learn online from some of the best universities in the world. At Nauticom, we offer more then 240 online courses, ranging from basic PC use to high-level technical curricula, for home or office use.

And our Nauticom Sports Network (NSN) specializes in live and archived online broadcasts of regional high school and college sporting events, simulcast with a network of radio affiliates. The first of its kind, NSN is experiencing phenomenal success after just one year in operation and is expanding into Eastern Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and Ohio.

NSN is evidence that the Internet has become an ideal medium for entertainment.

And that Net refrigerator and TV? Soon they won't be just the stuff of a fertile imagination. They'll be on store shelves and maybe in your own home.

However, innovation isn't enough to assure the Internet's continued growth. The proliferation and affordability of computer systems, software and connectivity are enhancing the Internet's evolution into a public utility, but several other factors are critical --including an economical, secure, dependable broadband technology such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).

Nauticom was one of the first to invest in and deploy DSL in the Golden Triangle for both residential and small business markets. This technology can carry large amounts of information at the high speeds necessary for transmission both to and from the consumer.

In addition, Internet backbone services need to increase their capacities, and computer manufacturers must continue to design and build servers capable of handling millions of requests.

Lastly, if innovation and investment in the Internet are to continue, governmental agencies must ensure fair and open competition.

With the infrastructure growth in place and fair business practices assured, the only limitations will be in the mind and imagination of the entrepreneur.

To paraphrase Al Jolson in the first talking movie: You ain't seen nothin' yet. Mark Steward is vice president of Nauticom, which he founded in his home in 1989. Nauticom is a wholly owned subsidiary of North Pittsburgh Systems Inc. It is one of the most comprehensive ISPs in the nation, providing Internet connectivity with dedicated circuits for reliable access, virtual hosting solutions, Web site design and development, registration services for domain names and search engine listings, LAN and WAN installation and services and e-mail services.