Big Planet Inc. calls itself an "Internetworking" company.

Basically that means it uses a multilevel marketing approach a la its parent company Nu Skin USA to sell technology and communication products via the Internet. The company moved from Portland, Ore., to Provo last November to become the state's largest and only national Internet service provider.On Wednesday, Big Planet unveiled a $9 million operations center in southeast Provo. The state-of-the-art facility will act as a hub for the company's Internet service and customer support services.

The center, employing nearly 200 people, will offer year-round, 24-hours-a-day assistance to consumers and Big Planet's estimated 40,000 independent distributors.

"We are committed to providing our customers and representatives with only products that are simple, reliable and convenient," said Big Planet's president, Richard King, a former Novell executive responsible for developing and marketing NetWare. "We consider the Network Operations Center an investment in future expansion and have not compromised on a single component."

Big Planet offers a variety of technology products for individuals and small businesses, including paging service, pre-paid telephone cards, Internet access and online technical training. It also deals in computer hardware, selling laptop and notebook computers.

The Provo facility was constructed using world-class hosting equipment, officials said. Big Planet committed to using only tier-one hardware and software providers such as Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Compaq, Oracle and Netscape Communications.

The center also is equipped with myriad backup systems, including a diesel-power generator with five days running capacity, to guarantee continuous operation despite power outages or other failures. Weekly "fire drills" are conducted to test backup and disaster recovery systems.

Daniel Smith, one of Big Planet's founders who formerly worked at Microsoft and CheckFree, is credited as the architect of the new operations center. He's responsible for implementing the company's services and products, managing relationships with ISP vendors and partners as well as maintaining the more than 100 servers on Big Planet's network.