“Jammed” … as in britannica.com

By : |October 29, 1999 0

In one of the most poorly planned Internet company launches, millions of Web surfers trying to gain free access to the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica have been frustrated by jammed access channels to the www.britannica.com Web site. The site hosts the online version of the popular encyclopaedia that can now be researched free of charge.

More than 10 million people from around the world have tried to log onto the Web site in the first week since it went live. So far, only 100,000 have been able to reach the home page. Most visitors, instead are greeted by a “busy” message that states that www.britannica.com is “working around the clock” to fix the glitches and increase the system’s capacity. Britannica.com senior vice president for sales and marketing Jorge Cauz admitted, “No one in his right mind would have built an infrastructure capable of handling the initial demand we had.” He said it likely will take weeks to ensure the Web site can handle millions of users at once looking up everything from A to Z in the huge encyclopedia, the hard copy of which has been too expensive for most people to afford.

Analysts said the value of the Britannica online was such that most consumers will give the company a few more chances to get its network in order. The limited access to the site will hurt the company generating advertising revenues, as mostly the gross numbers of hits on a web site determines online rates. Britannica also plans to offer consumers access without advertising messages for a $5 per month subscription, a fraction of the $1,250 the company charges for the hardcopy version.

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