Sprint Turns to Covad to Expand DSL Offerings

Telecom giant announced it will use Covad's network to expand its DSL offerings.

With a little help from Covad Communications Inc.—the only digital subscriber line carrier to thrive past last years telecommunications shakeout—Sprint Inc. is expanding its DSL offerings to cover 94 cities, adding faster connections and almost tripling the footprint that it had cobbled together on its own.

Rather than continue to build out its own DSL facilities, Sprint is connecting to Covads network to quickly reach more customers in a cost-effective way. According to Mike McRoberts, Sprints director of access product management, business customers demand that a DSL service reaches at least half their locations before they will subscribe to it.

"You need to be able to serve 50 percent of a customers sites if they are to adopt DSL," said McRoberts, at Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, Kan. "In the vast majority of customer situations, we are achieving that 50 percent."

Earlier this summer, Sprint said it planned to shut down the DSL access equipment it had already built, but the company has not made a final decision on how many of the 32 DSL facilities it will leave intact, according to McRoberts.

"We still have DSLAMs [DSL access multiplexers] out there," McRoberts said. "We are making the choice in some markets to remove them. Some markets were not going to hit enough penetration to justify maintaining the DSLAMs."

McRoberts emphasized that while the telecom giant is using Covads infrastructure, services will continue to originate with Sprint. "Weve established a wholesale relationship," he said. "Were using their access network, but its still our IP functionality."

For businesses, the expanded offerings include symmetrical DSL and integrated DSL, which is provided over existing ISDN lines, in addition to the asymmetrical DSL service that Sprint already offers. SDSL speeds range from 144 kbps to 1.5 mbps. Businesses will also be able to purchase IP-based services, including network-based IP virtual private network and managed security services.

Approximately 10 percent of the existing DSL customer base will no longer have service available under the new arrangements, McRoberts said. Additionally, the company is withdrawing its "unthrottled" DSL service, which was targeted to small businesses. However, enterprise customers using ADSL service today will be able to continue receiving it, he said.

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