SLAs hard to get for teleworkers

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

If DSL.net fails to meet the 80-millisecond average two months in a row, customers get a seven-day service credit. Other guarantees include 99.99% availability and a 15-minute mean time to respond to a problem. Service credits apply if these thresholds are not met.

Noting the importance of getting DSL SLAs to teleworkers, the U.S. government recently awarded a $300 million contract to 10 providers to connect government branch offices and remote workers via DSL -- and the contract includes a basic SLA. Drawn up by the General Services Administration (GSA), the contract lets federal agencies turn to one of the 10 providers for DSL services.

Bill Horst, assistant regional administrator with the Boston region GSA, says the government knew getting SLAs for DSL would be a challenge. "But we wanted to ensure there was some sort of guarantee," he says.

"We didn't expect to get anything close to what a frame relay SLA currently offers. We wanted the vendors to know they would be held to the SLAs we'd written into the contract," he adds.

The government contract covers ADSL and SDSL installations. Some of the requirements include 24-7 help desk service; installation within 45 days of an order being placed; 24-hour repair; and a minimum speed of 128K bit/sec.

In addition, the contracted vendor is solely responsible for any problems with the DSL connections and is the government employee's single source of contact.

This is a key component because DSL installations typically involve up to three providers -- an ILEC for the local loop, a wholesaler for the backbone network and an ISP for the implementation -- making problem resolution frustrating as the various providers take turns passing the problem customer from one to the other, resolving nothing.

"They'll be the ones who bleed for us," Horst says.

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