Price is key to voice-over-DSL multitenant service

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

ATLANTA

-- Competitive local exchange carrier Edge Connections this week began rolling out DSL voice and data bundles designed to give businesses in multitenant units cheaper voice and data services.

Called OmniPort, the bundles are now available in Atlanta and will be rolled out to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

Jim McKenna, Edge's president and CEO, says his firm is targeting small to midsize businesses that larger competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC) are ignoring.

"About 90% of our [DSL data] customers are still using the [regional Bell operating companies] because the CLECs aren't knocking on their door," he says.

The OmniPort family includes three options -- Office, Professional and Enterprise. Office comes with up to 3,600 interstate long-distance minutes, up to six local lines, up to 12 e-mail boxes, one Domain Name System, 50M bytes of hosting and 384K bit/sec of dedicated Internet bandwidth. Professional incorporates the same features and adds up to 4,800 minutes of long-distance, up to eight local lines, up to 20 e-mail boxes and 512K bit/sec of Internet bandwidth. Enterprise goes up to 7,200 minutes of long-distance, 12 local lines, 35 e-mail boxes and 1M bit/sec of bandwidth.

Edge Connections relies on symmetrical DSL for its connections and provides 64K bit/sec channels for its voice lines.

The firm isn't providing service-level agreements (SLA) for its users, but McKenna doesn't think this will be a problem.

"Customers don't seem concerned about the lack of an SLA," he says. "What small and midsize businesses want is a cost-effective alternative to a T-1."

The cost of Edge Connections' services will vary depending on what feature sets a business requires. Customers that don't use many feature sets should save between 20% and 25% on their voice and data bills, McKenna says, while customers requiring a large feature set will save more -- as much as 40%.

McKenna doesn't expect his firm's voice-over-DSL implementation to encounter too many difficulties. But there will be some hurdles to overcome, he adds.

"This is a learning curve for us, as it is for anyone else in this space," he says. "It won't be without problems."

For equipment, Edge Connections is using Jetstream and Polycom integrated access devices, Jetstream voice gateways, and AccessLan and RC Networks DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAM) located in the basements of the multitenant units the company serves. T-1 lines connect the DSLAMs to Edge Connections' points of presence.

Steven Weinberg, an analyst with New Paradigm Resources Group in Chicago, says voice over DSL is in its early stages, and that there will be bugs that need to be worked out. But he thinks firms such as Edge Connections should attract a solid customer base.

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