March 20, 2001, 3:13 PM — DESPITE ALL THE TALK of competition in the high-speed access space since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, there haven't been many competitive offerings available to most enterprises, at least not in terms of the last-mile connection to the nearest Internet point of presence. For most businesses, the only real choice has been the local telephone company's venerable T1 connection -- a couple dozen pairs of ordinary copper phone lines aggregated into a bundle that offers speeds of no more than 1.5Mbps. The only options generally have been a fractional T1 or a multiple T1 at correspondingly lower and higher monthly tariffs -- in other words, not much in the way of alternatives.
Seeking to fill the need for options, several challengers have appeared recently. DSL was supposed to offer T1 speeds at a much lower price, but real-world implementations seldom matched T1 performance. And when they did deliver the speed, their prices were apt to be equally elevated. In any event, DSL services as a whole have yet to demonstrate enterprise-class reliability and, moreover, the services have been plagued with well-publicized security lapses as well as disquieting business failures among the providers. Other high-speed access technologies