PORTLAND, Maine - Like Clark Kent, swapping a rumpled suit for flashy, blue Superman Spandex, the phone booth itself is making a big change. It's becoming an Internet on-ramp.
Verizon today powered up its first public Internet kiosk in Maine at the Portland International Jetport, giving travelers a hassle-free way to log onto the Web to check e-mail, flight schedules, reservations, the news or countless other Internet functions.
The kiosk, one of the first to be installed by Verizon, uses the model of the payphone in a new way. It's expected to be a boon to travelers on the run who need to keep in touch with the office, make travel plans, or communicate with loved ones.
"Making connections available to people on the go is what our business is all about," said Jay Richman, Verizon product manager for new product development. "The Internet has become a critical communication and information resource, and Verizon payphones are changing to meet the needs of our customers when they are away from their home or office."
Travelers can leave their PCs zipped in the case and their wireless phones in their pocket. The payphone kiosk provides everything they need to stay in touch affordably using the latest Internet tools.
"There's no more worrying about PC or wireless batteries, call security, dial-up protocols or minutes left in the calling plan," said Richman. "You can just sit down, log on and go."
The kiosk is similar to a small office cubicle, with a built-in computer screen and keyboard. Customers settling into the sleek mini-office will find an "always ready" access screen with simple instructions for beginning a session. The kiosk is supported by an ultra-fast 384 kilobit per second Frame Relay Service data connection.
Hookups cost 25 cents per minute with a minimum connection time of four minutes. The kiosks, manufactured by NetNearU of Bryan, Texas, accept bills, credit cards and prepaid calling cards.
"Providing convenient high-speed Internet access for our passengers will help enhance the Jetport's excellent reputation as a user-friendly airport," said Jeff Schultes, airport manager for the Portland International Jetport. "In addition to the Internet kiosk, we also are completing a first-rate business center at the Jetport that will offer Verizon services to professionals in a comfortable office-like setting."
The Portland Jetport business center, scheduled to open by mid-November, will provide office space to business travelers with access to Verizon voice and data telecommunications services.
"Economic development and technology are codependent, which is why Verizon spends more than $100 million a year on our infrastructure in Maine," said Ed Dinan, president of Verizon Maine. "The Internet kiosk will support people who come through the Jetport bringing their business to our state. This new tool symbolizes the integration of technology investment and improved economics for Maine."
Verizon is planning additional Internet kiosk installations in its Northeast and Mid-Atlantic service area and expects to have dozens of the units installed by year-end.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 100 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.
The Portland International Jetport handles nearly 1.4 million passengers a year. The Jetport offers 122 daily flights on eight major airlines with non-stop jet service to business centers like Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. For more information on the Portland International Jetport visit www.portlandjetport.org.