• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Lite DSL services present teleworker opportunity

Jul 29, 20032 mins

* LECs vie for SOHO customers

Service providers are starting to roll out “lite” DSL services.  Incumbent local-exchange carrier BellSouth, for example, recently launched a service, dubbed FastAccess Lite, which is a less filling (and less expensive) companion to its FastAccess DSL service.

The introduction of the new service follows related announcements from ILEC brethren SBC and Verizon, which have both reduced their “full” DSL service rates in recent months.

With BellSouth’s new service, rather than getting the traditional 256K-bit/sec upstream and 1.5M-bit/sec downstream speeds, you get 128K bit/sec upstream and 256K bit/sec downstream.  And the price drops from a minimum of $45 per month to $35 per month. Note that these prices apply when you purchase the option bundled with other BellSouth services.

The likely uptake in DSL usage could have a significant impact for SOHO users and their enterprise networking and IT departments, which are charged with managing and securing increasingly distributed workforces.  The positive side of the DSL developments is that there are fewer reasons to support at-home workers via dial services.  DSL prices are actually lower than the typical price for a phone line plus an ISP account.  And the service beats the heck out of ISDN for data access with higher speeds and always-on capabilities.

We really don’t see the BellSouth lite service as a threat to traditional asymmetric DSL services.  Realistically, there’s very little incentive for somebody already paying $45 per month to downgrade to save $10, or 22%.  But your upload speed drops by half, and the download speed drops by 83%.  Put another way, if you’re willing to pay $10 more per month, you get twice the upload speed and six times the download speed. Consequently, we actually think people will get hooked on DSL lite and then move to full DSL, rather than the other way around.

Enterprise networking professionals need to prepare for a new wave of home workers to make sure that the corporate network is protected from these always-on connections, an issue we’ll discuss next time.