• United States

AT&T strengthens SLAs for IP service

Sep 22, 20043 mins

* AT&T’s service-level agreements are strong

AT&T last week began touting new IP service-level agreements that constitute some of the strongest performance guarantees available.

The carrier’s revised SLAs guarantee that its IP services, including standard dedicated Internet access and IP VPN services, will be available at least 99.999% of the time. It also is promises that packet delivery will be at least 99.9% and latency will not exceed 39 millisec on average, per month.

Competitors will be forced to take notice, says Kate Gerwig, principal analyst for business network services at Current Analysis. “Especially for commodity services like dedicated IP. What else is there to differentiate on other than network performance and SLAs?” Gerwig asks.

Business customers continue to look to SLAs as a means of comparing providers.

“SLAs are extremely important when purchasing IP services,” says Jason Hittleman, IT director at RKA Petroleum in Romulus, Mich. “For RKA Petroleum Companies, service availability is the most important SLA, since redundant circuits are not always an option.”

RKA is not alone according to analysts.”SLAs consistently rank high in provider selection criteria,” says David Parks, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group.

AT&T’s previous SLA offered a minimum packet-delivery guarantee of 99.3% and stated that latency would not exceed 60 millisec.

“Our previous metrics did not match network performance,” says Joe Faranetta, director of IP services at AT&T. “When performance and SLAs were mismatched like ours, you get raised eyebrows from customers.”

For more than two years, the carrier has been posting network performance on its customer Web portal, where customers could see that the carrier’s average latency did not exceed 35 millisec, he says.

While AT&T’s new SLAs are solid, the carrier is not leading the market with its service availability guarantee. MCI has offered a 100% service availability guarantee since 1999. But AT&T’s packet delivery and minimum latency SLAs are now the strongest of the major national providers.

AT&T also has improved its SLAs for IP services throughout the world. The carrier now guarantees latency will not exceed 90 millisec in Asia Pacific. And it is guaranteeing packet delivery of at least 99.8% in Europe.

The carrier also offers provisioning SLAs for all circuits in the U.S. The SLA says that T-1s will be provisioned within 30 calendar days. MCI guarantees T-1 provisioning within 45 business days.

And for the first time AT&T is offering a meantime-to-repair guarantee that says T-1 outages will be fixed in three hours or less.

For the rest of this story, please go to: