Local, Long-Distance Carriers Beef Up DSL

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2001-09-27

Having secured government approval to shut off service this week, Rhythms NetConnections Inc. followed its fellow DSL pure play, NorthPoint Communications Inc., into the dustbin of failed broadband service providers.

Although the digital subscriber line business is consolidating rapidly, a battle for the enterprises DSL business is shaping up between incumbent local telephone companies and the major long-distance carriers, which are buying assets from the defunct DSL providers.

Next week, BellSouth Corp. will beef up its suite of DSL offerings for enterprises with a new static Internet protocol addressing service. The new offering will allow small businesses to host their own Web sites and provide applications that require a static IP address, such as gaming applications. In addition, the new service provides alternative security features for small-business LANs and WANs, according to Rich Wonders, senior director for broadband marketing at BellSouth. "IT can know who the address is," Wonders said. "This is almost a cheap authentication solution."

As the Bell Operating Companies expand their business-class DSL services, the major long-distance carriers are doing the same. WorldCom Inc. this week received court approval to buy parts of Rhythms network out of bankruptcy. Unlike NorthPoint customers who were stranded without warning last spring when AT&T Corp. bought the defunct service providers assets, Rhythms customers were alerted Aug. 9 that they should find new providers. According to WorldCom officials, the company will continue providing service to remaining Rhythms customers along the parts of the network WorldCom is acquiring.

While AT&T appears to be using the former NorthPoint facilities largely for residential service, WorldCom is promoting the Rhythms acquisition as a way to offer enterprises new WAN applications across multiple sites. The nationwide footprint will allow small and medium businesses to use an integrated DSL line coast to coast.

Sprint Corp. expanded its own business-class DSL footprint last week to include Boston; Lawrence, Mass.; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Oklahoma City; and Pittsburgh. As an added incentive to enterprise DSL users -- and in a considerable departure from typical DSL packages -- Sprint is offering service-level agreements to business users. If network service availability falls below 99.9 percent, Sprint will provide a credit for the entire day of service.

The sole surviving DSL pure play, Covad Communications Inc., this week signed a service agreement with MegaPath Networks to extend the ISPs footprint for small to medium-sized businesses.

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