RealTime IT News

Survey: DSL Deployment Hampered by Local Phone Companies

New Networks Institute Wednesday released the results of its survey on the relationship between U.S. Internet providers and local phone companies.

According to Bruce Kushnick, NNI executive director, local phone companies including Bell Atlantic Corp. (BEL), BellSouth (BLS), SBC Communications Inc. (SBC) and subsidiaries Ameritech, PacBell, Southwestern Bell, as well as US West (USW), and GTE Service Corp. (GTE), are stifling competition and the growth of broadband services in the U.S. and under-serving independent ISPs.

"Small and mid-sized ISPs represent almost 46 percent of all online customers," Kushnick said. "Based on the findings of the survey, local Bell companies and GTE are causing serious harm to Internet Providers and their customers."

"This includes not only a loss of revenues for ISPs, but the Bells are also stifling competition and the growth of America's digital future," Kushnick said.

Kushnick alleges that independent, small ISPs are receiving sub-standard service from local phone companies across the board.

The survey indicates that only 8 percent of the participating ISPs gave their local phone company a passing grade on services provided. On a scale of one-to-ten, ISPs gave local phone companies an average score of just 3.7 percent, representing a failing grade on service.

A Maryland-based service provider said sub-standard service from Bell Atlantic is business as usual at his ISP.

"We have lost several hundred customers and at least 1,000 man-hours combating BA connectivity problems," he said. "We were repeatedly told that it must be problems with our equipment, even though the same equipment works flawlessly at our other POPs. We purchased 3 brands of equipment to test the circuits to prove our point, but it did not do any good. BA said all of these pieces of equipment must be defective as well."

"We have had over 100 trouble reports filed with BA in the course of 16 months. The problems were finally cleared up 3-weeks ago after it was discovered that their smartjack cabinet was defective," he added. "I was told by several BA technicians that they've had lots of problems with this particular model of cabinet, and that they have had to repeatedly replace them."

Sixty-two percent of the ISPs reported phone line problems with their local phone company, while 57 percent said that they experienced fulfillment delays on orders placed for advanced services. Just less than half of the ISPs reported that their local phone company takes several days to repair disrupted services.

Kushnick said the problems are not geographically isolated or company specific.

"There is a clear pattern of abuse throughout the entire Bell system and GTE," Kushnick said. "From Texas to California, New York to Florida the problems encountered are happening throughout the system and DSL deployment is being stifled by the local phone companies."

Of the participating ISPs, 71 percent reported that local phone companies had lost orders for services. Just less than 60 percent reported that local phone companies had "slammed" ISP c