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The seventh annual Internet World/ISPCON trade show opened Wednesday in Toronto with 120 exhibitors.

Exhibitors are split roughly 50-50 between American- and Canadian-based companies, said show director Jill Campbell, and an estimated 5,000 industry people are expected to attend the two-day event at the Metro Toronto Convention Center.

Brian LoPresto, vice president of Buffalo's Simpull Solutions, used the show to officially launch his company and announce partnerships with companies like EasyTel.

"We provide our own Web-based applications and partner services for sectors like real estate, insurance, multilevel marketing and home-based business, that have a lot of workers who rarely come to a central office," he explained.

Through its 'Web-centric' network, Simpull provides discounted office services such as centralized voice mail, email, instant messaging and a central platform allowing workers in remote locations to share calendars and tasks, he said.

"We're getting reduced costs and passing that on to the consumer," he added.

He said his company's high speed technology provides instantaneous two-way communication between a Web site and a user, resulting in Web pages that download instantly.

Western New York's economy may not be as vibrant as southern Ontario's, he noted, but the Internet can minimize the differences.

"The Internet bridges those barriers to geography. If anything, the Internet helps Buffalo companies level the playing field with Toronto or any other city," he added.

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