Tacoma’s Click! Network & ATG ‘Partners’ Sign Interconnection Agreement for Service

“Tacoma Power’s Click! Network and Advanced TelCom Group, Inc., a new local telephone company, have announced the signing of an Interconnection Agreement. The agreement partners ATG’s state-of-the-art telecommunications switching equipment with Click! Network’s 650-mile fiber-based telecommunications network.“When we created Click! Network, our vision was to use our fiber infrastructure to attract high tech telecommunications companies to the area and to bring competitive services like local and long distance phone and Internet service to this historically underserved market,” said Steve Klein, Tacoma Power superintendent. “ATG is exactly the type of company we envisioned would use our extensive fiber network.”The agreement is the second one to be signed by Click! Network with telecommunications services providers, according to Diane Lachel, government and community relations manager for Click!. Another agreement has been signed with Electric Lightwave. The agreements with the two companies allow them to offer additional telecommunications choices for business customers in the downtown Tacoma core, Lachel said.Powerscourt Professional Technology Services is also working with Click! Network as an Internet Service Provider to offer an array of Internet services to the downtown Tacoma business core, according to George Spence, Click!’s business accounts manager. Click! Network is wholesaling bandwidth to these service providers, Spence said, with additional negotiations taking place with other telecommunications firms such as MCI Worldcom and others.“The connection with ATG and ELI, connects us to the outside world with fiber,” Spence said. “It allows us to give our customers and their customers the ability to get outside of Tacoma with Internet and long distance services. Click! provides the local loop, the other two companies provide value-added services.”ATG, a relatively new telecommunications firm, has chosen a business strategy of providing services to medium sized markets which, they view as underserved.“The primary reason ATG selected Tacoma as one of our first markets in Washington was the investment the City of Tacoma made in creating Click! Network,” said Bruce Greene, general manager of ATG in Washington. “This Interconnection Agreement will allow ATG to reach more of the Tacoma business community with a greater selection of advanced high speed telecommunication services, today.”By using Click! Network, ATG is able to provide the following services to local businesses, according to ATG:- Access to ATG’s $10 million investment in networking and switching equipment for local access, long distance and Internet service- A reliable and secure path for business communications with a fully redundant fiber optic system to protect against failures- Either standard analog or digital business telephone lines with enhanced features such as voice mail, fax mail, caller ID, 3-way calling, call forwarding and call waiting- High speed Internet access services including fractional T-1 or T-3 and dedicated full-bandwidth T-1 or T-3 for large scale Internet backbone needs allowing businesses to transport large quantities of information quickly.Coaxial cable modem trials through the Click! Network’s cable infrastructure outside of the downtown Tacoma core, have gone very well, according to Lachel and Spence. Cable Internet service to the network is expected to be up and running by mid-January 2000, Spence said.Three ISPs took part in the trial – Telisphere, Fox Internet, and Harbornet – using different modems, Spence said. The trial proved the network could have more than one type of modem installed, with no conflicts, Spence said. He added that with the cable data network up and running, Click! hopes to add more ISPs for customers to choose from, and to compete, keeping prices down.Laschel said Click! Network now has about 9,000 cable television customers, with 10 to 12 percent opting for World Gate Internet service through their television. She added that World Gate service has undergone several software updates resulting in faster Web access.With the numerous Internet access choices coming on line for both business and personal use customers in Tacoma, Lachel said Click! is doing what it was meant to do – providing choices for residents.“Choice is what it’s all about,” Lachel said. “It feels good to have generated some competitive spirit.”An additional governmental institutional network Click! is creating is also progressing, with five libraries now connected, and more on the way, Lachel said.Click! Network employs 100 skilled telecommunications experts and works with an additional 100 contractors in various aspects of network construction and operations.ATG is an Integrated Communications Provider, or ICP, with offices in Tacoma, Bellingham, Olympia and Yakima. The company was formed in 1998 in Santa Rosa, California, and has brought 42 skilled jobs to Washington, with 17 positions located in Tacoma.Locally, ATG also serves Fife and Puyallup.”