Qwest and IXC Join Big Boys with DSL Offerings

Long-haul carriers Qwest and IXC are separately adding digital subscriber line services to their local access portfolios, enabling customers to tie remote offices to central sites for less than alternative methods.

Customers can go to one carrier and order the local access and long-distance segments of the service rather than dealing with two separate providers.

Although it is not available in as many places as dedicated lines, 1.5M bit/sec DSL service at $300 to $400 per month is less expensive than alternative connections. T-1 lines, for instance, can cost more than $1,000 per month.

Analysts say Qwest and IXC should give long-distance leaders AT&T, MCIWorldCom and Sprint, which already offer DSL access services, a good fight in the DSL market.

"It's still a young market," says Jilani Zeribi, an analyst with Current Analysis, a consultancy in Sterling, Va. "There's no dominant leader by any stretch of the imagination."

Getting a little help

Qwest and IXC are using other service providers to set up DSL links between their backbones and customer sites. Qwest and IXC then drop the traffic onto the Internet or transfer it to other customer sites.

Qwest's service will be offered in conjunction with Covad Communications and Rhythms NetConnections, two carriers specializing in establishing local-loop DSL connections. Qwest has invested in both companies.

IXC is using NorthPoint Communications and plans to add other partners.

Teaming up with other carriers to provide DSL is a model followed by other carriers, such as MCIWorldCom and DSLnetworks (see story, page 25). "It gives them better coverage," Zeribi says.

Qwest promises to offer enhancements in the future, including virtual private networks, voice over IP and application hosting over high-speed DSL wires, but would not say when.

Qwest expanding

Speeds for the Qwest service range from 128K bit/sec to 7M bit/sec, and the service costs between $119 and $849 per month (see graphic, page 8). Qwest charges a $500 installation fee.

The Qwest service is available in Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Orange County, Calif.; Philadelphia; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose; Seattle and Washington, D.C. Later this year, 19 more cities will be added.

Meanwhile, IXC is offering DSL service through its retail subsidiary Eclipse Telecommunications.

IXC's service speeds range from 160K bit/sec to 1.5M bit/sec, and the service costs $229 to $679 per month, depending on speed and the length of the service contract.

The price includes Internet access, and there is a $325 installation fee.

IXC's service is available in Austin, Texas, San Diego and Los Angeles.

By year-end it will also be available in New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Boston; Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Miami; Philadelphia; Phoenix and Tampa.

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