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SBC Offers DSL Installation Kit

SBC Communications Inc. is working to connect digital subscriber line users posthaste.

In another key move to unleash its so-called "Project Pronto" $6 billion DSL network buildout in the U.S., SBC Monday introduced its self-installation kit designed to make high-speed Internet access a breeze.

A self-install option is currently available to most DSL customers in SBC's Pacific Bell, Southwestern Bell, Nevada Bell, and SNET territories.

SBC subsidiary Advanced Solutions, Inc designed the DSL self-install kit. The kit is scheduled to be put to work in SBC's newly acquired Ameritech region of operations later this summer.

SBC expects a significant percent of new DSL subscribers will use the self-install kit to get connected to its family of branded high-speed services. The move allows SBC to dramatically increase the number of DSL lines it can activate each day.

James Gallemore, SBC strategic planning and marketing executive vice president, said the availability of its customer self-install kit is an important milestone in meeting the demand for high-speed DSL services.

"The convenience of self-install, combined with the affordability and wide availability of our service, will also enable us to take advantage of retail distribution channels and further fuel subscriber growth," Gallemore said.

SBC is also making the self-install option available to Internet service provider partners that resell the company's DSL service. Each independent ISP is free to set its own prices and terms for the DSL kits and access.

Self-install customers sign-up for service and receive a due date for activation. In the mean time, subscribers that opt to complete a self-installation receive a kit containing a DSL modem, filters, software, and instruction manual and a network interface card, if required.

According to SBC, the installation process typically takes less than an hour complete. The installation is splitterless because the high-speed line is filtered through phone jacks that support analog phones and fax machines. This eliminates the need for local service providers to install a splitter at the customer's location and enables simultaneous surf and talk connections through a single phone line.

The DSL self-install kit is initially available for basic DSL service operating on Windows 95 or higher computer systems. Later this year, SBC plans to make the self-install option available for enhanced DSL services and operate on Windows 2000, Windows NT, Macintosh, and Linux systems.

According to Cahners In-Stat Group, the DSL market is on the verge of experiencing exponential growth, as lines become easier to install.

Mike Lowe, In-Stat senior analyst for advanced carrier services, if providers meet installation challenges, DSL providers will have a real impact on the rapidly growing broadband marketplace.

"The DSL market will experience exponential growth, amounting to approximately 5.4 million ADSL and 3.1 million SDSL subscribers by 2003," Lowe said. "That's a 77 percent growth year-over-year."

SBC's Project Pronto remains on target to reach more than 80 percent of its potential customers by 2002. Because the firm is building remote access facilities, the initiative will also eliminate distance limitations associated with current DSL services emitted from limited central offices.

Currently SBC has made DSL service available to more than 14 million homes and businesses in its collective operation footprint. At the end of March, SBC already had 201,000 digital subscriber lines in service nationwide. By year-