RealTime IT News

EarthLink Poised to Launch Nationwide Consumer DSL Service

EarthLink Network Inc. Wednesday announced an agreement with UUNET that will allow the national Internet service provider to deliver nationwide Digital Subscriber Line access by year's end.

The service will undergo market testing during this year's third quarter in Dallas, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C. EarthLink anticipates the broadband Internet service will be made available in major metropolitan markets by the end of the year.

The agreement makes EarthLink one of the only ISPs to offer nationwide DSL home access. EarthLink has aggressively pursued developing DSL services this year, having announced three DSL network deals since April. In addition to UUNET, EarthLink has existing DSL agreements in place with Sprint and Pacific Bell.

Jon Irwin, EarthLink senior vice president of broadband services, said building a competitive national DSL network is a daunting task.

"In a world where DSL is considered a regional service, national coverage is the Holy Grail," Irwin said. "This agreement will allow us to leverage this national infrastructure and commitment to DSL to reinforce our leadership position in the broadband market. It should give us a major leg up on our competition."

The Yankee Group, an independent research firm, estimates that the number of consumer DSL users will increase from 25,000 subscribers in 1998, to more than 4 million by 2003. With the UUNET deal set, EarthLink is poised to play a major role in national broadband deployment.

Melissa Bane, Yankee Group director of Internet market strategies, said EarthLink will be well positioned to lead the market for broadband Internet access.

"A national DSL solution is a distinct advantage in the ISP market, and a great move for EarthLink. The consumer demand for broadband services will increase dramatically in the next few years and companies that make high-speed connections available nationally will be in a great position to lead the field."

UUNET, an MCI WorldCom company, has 1,000 DSL-ready points of presence throughout the U.S. and plans to raise that to 1,500 by year's end.

EarthLink will handling all member support, marketing, sales and Internet service-related functions. Although pricing has not been set, EarthLink expects to offer the service for $40 to $60 a month.