RealTime IT News

HarvardNet Attains DSL Milestone

New England-based digital subscriber line provider HarvardNet Inc. Wednesday reached a milestone when it successfully installed its 200th connection to Bell Atlantic Corp. central office facilities.

The achievement part of its program, dubbed "Operation Bigfoot," to connect with 615 central offices by mid-2001. The data carrier provides backbone services, business-class Web hosting, and virtual private network access to most parts of the mid-Atlantic, including New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

HarvardNet is one of the leading providers of DSL in New England, running its services through 160 central offices. It launched New York City services when it enabled 40 central offices this week. The firm intends to eventually offer high-speed synchronous digital subscriber line service from 235 central offices in the New York metro area within a year.

Mark Washburn, HarvardNet president and chief executive officer, said it is part of its commitment to providing quality support for their business customers.

"The demand for business-class DSL and broadband virtual private network services is exploding as businesses look for ways to extend the corporate network to branch offices, remote workers, and telecommuters," Washburn said.

"HarvardNet recognizes that a rapid, deep deployment of DSL service in major metropolitan areas will be the overriding factor for maintaining a leadership position in this highly competitive market."

By entering into the high-speed Internet and services arena, HarvardNet faces competition from national-level carriers such as Covad Communications Inc. , Northpoint Communications , and Broadwing Inc. .

Jim Wahl, HarvardNet DSL product manager, said the key to success in this highly contested area of the country, which owns between 25 and 38 percent of Internet traffic nationwide, is to have a focused approach.

"Companies like Northpoint operate nationally. By focusing on the Northeast, we have the opportunity to deepen our reach and provide a higher level of support," Wahl said.

Wahl said it usually takes 25 days to set up DSL, and in that time the company would make an average of eight phone calls to the customer. He said that's a level of support that national high-speed access providers just can't rival.

HarvardNet is the beneficiary of two large investments over the past eight months, which put $190 million in their coffers.

The first equity investment came in December 1999, from a group of investors including The Sturm Group, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures, and others, totaling about $70 million. Cisco Systems Inc. doled out $120 million in debt financing deal done with HarvardNet in April.