Sprint favors digital subscriber lines for ION

Sprint Corp. plans to open up local access to its Integrated On-demand Network by
installing, wherever possible, its own high-speed digital subscriber lines for end users
rather than leasing links from local providers.

“The cost of doing the last mile for ION is more affordable than we thought,”
Sprint spokesman James Fisher said. The company will seek an amendment for ION services in
its first-round FTS 2001 long-distance contract.

Dennis J. Fischer, commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Federal
Technology Service, has said ION is the kind of leading-edge technology he wants in the
FTS 2001 program.

Sprint’s Fisher said agencies have expressed interest in the integrated,
high-speed network for local and long-distance voice, video and data communications.

“We think the first [of the agencies] will go on as a beta site in the first half
of 1999,” Fisher said.

DSL technology can boost bandwidth over existing copper lines from about 56 Kbps to as
much as 8 Mbps. ION, announced last June, will be accessible in various ways, but Sprint
sees DSL as the primary vehicle for small offices and residential users. Larger offices
would connect by faster lines to broadband metropolitan area networks.

Sprint had originally planned to lease DSL access from regional Bell operating
companies or competitive local exchange carriers. The new strategy instead will set up a
broadband local networks unit to build out the last mile.

“We’re still going to do it both ways in all likelihood,” said Lloyd
Karnes, spokesman for Sprint’s local telecommunications division. “But we
believe it will be faster and more cost-effective to build first. We’re drawing on
in-house expertise.”

Sprint plans to install 1,000 central-office DSL access multiplexers in 35 U.S. markets
by early 2000 and ultimately as many as 1,600 multiplexers. It will lease copper lines to
connect users to the central offices from local interexchange carriers.  

—William Jackson 

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