RealTime IT News

T1s for $700 a Month?

How does Williams Communications top its recent spin-off from energy industry giant Williams? Simple, the wholesale backbone provider steps out in style by offering Internet service providers (ISPs) a T1 feed for $700 a month.

By separating its national natural gas pipeline from its OC48 data pipes, Williams Communications needs to put its backbone to work, fast. The Oklahoma-based company just finished building out its IP backbone network last month - - nearly a year in advance of its original deadline. So Williams Communications has bandwidth for sale and it is looking for a few ISPs to fill its big pipes with data.

The Williams IP network is a nationwide, legacy-free, OC-48 backbone network built on packet over SONET technology. ISPs can opt to access the Williams Communications IP backbone via several methods, including packet over SONET, ATM, frame relay and private line, and can enter the network through any of Williams Communications' 115-plus collocation facilities.

Local-loop access can by mitigated by ISPs through relationships Williams has with neutral collocation providers including Colo.com and Equinix, among others. Additionally, the Williams Communications IP network also offers global Internet reach to Mexico, South America, Australia and Asia, bringing the world to its U.S. customers.

Charles Moore, Williams Communications' product manager, said the $700 a month T1 deal is being offered through the end of May. And just to sweeten the honey pot, Williams is also waiving its $500 install fee for qualifying ISPs.

"Our marketing promotion is designed for ISPs of all shapes and sizes," Moore said. "Even the smallest service provider can benefit from reducing their monthly fees for T1 services.

But the Williams IP backbone promotion is more than just a hot price point for ISPs. Moore said its offering is different than market-leaders UUNET and Sprint because Williams is operating as a wholesaler only.

"Flexibility and efficiency are key attributes our ISP customers want and what the Williams Communications IP network was designed to deliver," Moor said. "We offer high-capacity, very flexible programs for ISPs that need anything from T1 to OC12 connectivity. We got into the wholesale business to be an enabling force for ISPs, which is why we don't compete with our customers for the end user, like UUNET."

Backbone prices vary dramatically among providers, while UUNET is sticking with its $1,600 a month price tag right now, the WorldCom subsidiary may be forced to be a bit more price sensitive in light of offers at play in the market, like Williams.

If an independent ISP can knock $500 a month off from its recurring costs, the operator will have to take a serious look at Williams in order to increase profit margins by reducing monthly backbone connection fees. As Moore puts it, "Williams will continue to reaffirm our role as a key player in the tier one IP market." And at this price point, Williams is going to earn some business from ISPs seeking a friendlier face in the marketplace.