RealTime IT News

Sprint's DSL Gets A Burst of Speed

Sprint announced Friday an enhancement to its business-class digital subscriber line (DSL) service, available in 32 markets and tailored to larger companies. The enhancement gives enterprises an alternative to pricey T-1 lines.

The announcement caps a year of slow but steady DSL growth for the carrier, which re-launched business DSL services last year through its long-distance division.

The strategy appears to be successful, compared to the carrier's ill-fated ION project -- though officials won't release the number of business DSL customers on its network.

One official did say, however, that there are no plans to expand in other markets this year, despite customer demand.

Friday's announcement also marks the first time Sprint has gone back after large companies since the ION breakdown. ION, originally tailored to big business, opened up to small businesses in the hope of spurring sales right before the end. When Sprint re-launched the business DSL service last year, it was targeted primarily at the small business.

It seems the carrier is ready to start bringing in bigger customers, though not that much larger. The 4 Mbps/512 Kbps service is a good alternative for companies a little too small to be able to justify the expense of a pricey T-1 line to the office, but too big to function on Sprint's existing 512/512 Kbps service.

The service is also tailor-fit for those larger companies looking to connect branch offices with a high-speed DSL line, as opposed to a T-1.

Monthly price of the enhanced DSL offering runs at $224, though the price goes down for businesses which sign one- or two-year terms. The service comes with six static IP addresses and a free Zyxel Prestige modem and router (for those who sign a term - $199 for month-to-month subscribers).

Randy Ritter, Sprint vice president of product/portfolio management, said the new offering is part of the carrier's continuing efforts to provide customizable solutions to businesses.

"Sprint business DSL provides our business customers with the connectivity they need to meet the growing technology demands of their remote workforces, enabling increased collaboration, productivity and accessibility through high-speed and secure access to applications and communication services," he said.

While Sprint's long-distance division is marketing its DSL service to businesses only, that doesn't mean the carrier has plans to completely lock the door on residential service nationwide forever. One of its service offerings is a 1.5 Mbps/385 Kbps asynchronous DSL (ADSL) package, to go along with its 512/512 Kbps synchronous DSL (SDSL) and 4 Mbps/512 Kbps services, which could compete immediately with the local telephone companies in that city.

The business DSL service, bundled with company-friendly virtual private networking (VPN) service for remote users and telecommuters, comes with a 99.9 percent network availability service-level agreement (SLA) and 90-day satisfaction guarantee. Officials are quick to point out Sprint has been lauded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the past five years for the least network outages, compared to Sprint competitors.

Presumably because of the SLA, Sprint is marketing its enhanced service with 4 Mbps download speeds, though its Web site states the service can reach speeds up to 8 Mbps.