Amid news of lower than expected fourth-quarter sales, Sprint Corp. fortified its business DSL (digital subscriber line) service for small enterprises in 32 U.S. cities.
The recharged service offers faster download speed and improved service guarantees to small businesses primarily because the network—originally deployed for the defunct Sprint ION service—no longer serves residential customers.
"We dont have tons of consumers clogging up the network," said David Palan, director of DSL marketing at Sprint. "And we like to think weve got a fairly robust network backing it."
The Kansas City, Mo., carrier will provide enterprises up to 8 mbps download speed—142 times faster than a 56 Kbps dial-up connection—but the upstream link remains comparatively slow at 512 kbps.
Over the next year, Sprint will be evaluating the emerging G.shdsl standard, which is slated to provide faster service.
"We are exploring the opportunity right now," Palan said. "But one of the questions is how many folks really need this? And does it give us more reach?"
Bringing the notoriously spotty DSL offering closer to dedicated connections, Sprint is guaranteeing 99.9 percent network performance and offering credit for a full day of service if a customer reports an outage.
However, the potentially long wait for service activation remains. It can still take a month and a half to get the service installed once an order is placed, but if it takes longer, Sprint gives customers half a month service for free, Palan said.
"Right now were quoting 26 days," he said. "Its been under 30 days for as long as I can remember."
To make the activation experience easier, the company is considering a self-installation option and may make it available as early as the second quarter, Palan said.
To entice small enterprises to commit to long-term contracts, Sprint is offering a special two-year service agreement at $159.99 per month and a one-year agreement at $184.99 per month. For a month-to-month contract, the price is $224.99 per month.
Through February, customers who sign a one- or two-year contract receive the router/modem for free and do not have to pay the $99 activation charge. After February, the router/modem costs $199.