C&W Offers New Hosting Service Despite Exit Plan

Three months after Cable & Wireless PLC disclosed plans to exit the U.S Web hosting market, its U.S. unit today is due to announce a "business-ready" hosting service to try to shore up its customer base for potential buyers.

The new enterprise hosting package includes collocation data center services as well as connectivity, security, and data backup and restoration capabilities, said Jason Weisberger, vice president of product management and partner development at C&W's U.S. division in San Francisco. It will also gather all of C&W's primary services into one bundle for the first time, he said.

This week's announcement is in sharp contrast to the U.S. pullout plan that C&W set in June, when the London-based company said it was losing $1 million per day here . C&W, which in November had narrowed its focus in the U.S. to large multinational companies, continues to seek a buyer for its remaining operations.

When asked how C&W officials expect corporate users to react to the new service in light of the sell-off plans, Weisberger said, "We'll see how people will respond to it. Right now, we're not concerned."

Adam Lavine, CEO of wireless messaging applications vendor FunMail Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif., has been a C&W customer since 2000 and said he has already signed on to buy the services bundle to get all the hosting capabilities he needs under one contract.

"We were willing to give them a try," Lavine said. Thus far, C&W's plans haven't negatively affected either the customer service or the network reliability it provides to FunMail. "I would have to think they're motivated to do a good job here," Lavine noted.

The new services bundle could help C&W retain customers while it tries to find a buyer for its U.S. operations, said Melanie Posey, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass. "They kind of have to maintain the business they have in order to eventually sell it to somebody else," she said.

But Laurie McCabe, an analyst at Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston, said C&W is in danger of sending potential customers mixed messages. "It's not that hard to find a hosting provider with similar services, so why would you go with someone who's waffling?" she said. "You want to feel like the vendor is in it for the long haul."

Laurie Probst, vice president of marketing in the U.S. at C&W, confirmed that the new services are designed to beef up its customer base to entice buyers. "It's our job to retain the value of this company," she said.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon