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DSL.net Speeds Up Its Network

DSL.net Inc., announced Friday transit and peering arrangements that reduce the cost and improve the performance of its nationwide symmetric digital subscriber line service.

As a result of the announcement, DSL.net has peering arrangements with eight Network Access Points in the U.S. NAPs are the major interconnection points that tie the Internet together.

It's a deal that gives the provider more data traffic reliability for its business customers, who demand a dedicated, stable backbone connection. Because DSL.net is connected to more NAPs, the traffic isn't required to make as many "hops" to get to its final destination, which slows down the connection and sometimes causes packet loss.

That's important for a company with a customer base made up of SDSL users in 375 cities who signed on for consistent upload and download speeds for applications like streaming media, virtual private networks and Internet-based video.

Keith Markley, DSL.net president and chief operating officer, said it's an upgrade that translates into customer savings.

"To be successful in meeting the demand for delivering quality, high-speed data over the Internet, companies have had to change the way they design and operate their networks," Markley said. "With our upgraded network architecture and balanced traffic load, our customers now stand to reap substantial benefits as we continually upgrade and improve the robustness of our network."

The broadband provider, ranked ninth-largest among DSL providers in the U.S. with approximately 13,635 customers, is a rarity among its kind because DSL.net actually owns the backbone it offers its high-speed Internet services.

The broadband provider also provides Domain Name System and Web hosting business services.

Because of its ownership, the company avoids the pitfalls and pratfalls that have caused so many troubles for other broadband providers.

Companies like Covad Communications Group and NorthPoint Communications must provision DSL lines from the telephone company (for instance, Verizon Communications), which is also trying to grab as many customers as it can.

The telephone companies have been less than enthusiastic in sharing its lines with the competition, which has resulted in mishandled line provisioning and a lot of miscommunication.

DSL.net figures it has an advantage over the other data local exchange carriers (DLECs), because DSL service is provisioned directly from its own backbone, cutting out a lot of the hoops customers need to jump through to get high-speed services.

That doesn't mean the company has remained unscathed, compared to the problems besetting other DSL providers. Despite a relatively mild deployment schedule, compared to other national providers, DSL.net had a net loss of $29.9 million in fiscal 2000 compared to revenue gains of $7.1 million, as it expanded its network nationwide.

Also, administrative errors last year resulted in an internal audit/housecleaning, which required the cancellation of 566 accounts. Officials said they expect to make up those cancellations, and more, by the end of the first quarter.

According to its forecast, DSL.net plans to have nearly 30,000 DSL customers by the end of the year.

DSL.net now has NAP arrangements with MAE ATM East, MAE ATM West, MAE West Classic, PAIX West, PAIX East, Ameritech NAP, PacBell NAP and NYIIX.