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The Times 100: The Best Performing Companies in California
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Netcom : No. 1 on the Growth 100

May 07, 1996|JULIE PITTA

The Internet craze has seemingly swept the country, if not the world, and boosted the fortunes of San Jose's Netcom On-line Communications Services.

The company's sales grew 324% in 1995, to $52 million, making it the fastest-growing company in The Times 100 universe.

Four-year-old Netcom provides Internet access to about 300,000 computer users, making it the leading provider of connections to the global computer network. At least for now. The start-up now faces tough competition from AT&T, which in February announced it would provide its 80 million residential phone customers five hours a month of free access to the Internet for one year, or unlimited access for $19.95 a month.

For non-AT&T customers, access will still come fairly cheap at a price of $24.95 a month for unlimited access.

The good news is that AT&T's free Internet hours probably will draw first-timers. And Netcom predicts that as these novices grow more experienced, they will leave AT&T and migrate to its service, which offers better rates for heavy Internet users.

In preparation, Netcom has invested the money it raised in its 1994 initial public offering to increase the number of subscribers it can accommodate. That is crucial if Netcom is going to offer the kind of service AT&T is expected to feature.

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