DSL: Alive and Well?

Despite its checkered past, DSL service is growing steadily---12 percent over last year, in fact.

Despite its checkered past, DSL (digital subscriber line) service is growing steadily, according to research unveiled today by TeleChoice Inc. The U.S. DSL market has reached almost five million lines, which represents 12 percent growth over last year, according to TeleChoice.

Incumbent telephone companies account for the preponderance of the DSL market – 89 percent – an increase over last year when more competitive carriers were still holding on for life. Covad, which holds 66 percent of the non-incumbent DSL market, only grew 2 percent over the past quarter, but "could still spur a rebound," TeleChoice predicted. Of the incumbent carriers, BellSouth Inc. has been the most aggressive in expanding its market share, steadily deploying remote terminals.

Wednesday, Alcatel S.A. announced that it has shipped in North America more than 740,000 remote DSL ports with its new Litespan Next Generation Digital Loop Carrier platform. The new platform was built to help carriers respond quickly to DSL requests and turn on service remotely – with a view to mitigating the notoriously long wait DSL subscribers traditionally endured when ordering service.

According to Alcatel, one-third of all North American telephone subscribers use its digital loop platform, and they constitute the target of expanded DSL deployment. The Paris-based manufacturer is championing its North American shipments of DSL ports as a record-breaking number.

BellSouth last week expanded its enterprise DSL offerings, providing new high-speed choices, including FastAccess Business Speed 384 and Speed 768. The new packages are designed to improve remote access, videoconferencing, server hosting and e-commerce. They can be self-installed using customer equipment already on site, rather than BellSouths equipment.