Pacific Bell’s pipe dream – offers ADSL to PeopleSoft employees for telecommuting

Pacific Bell’s pipe dream – offers ADSL to PeopleSoft employees for telecommuting – Company Business and Marketing

Susan Biagi

In one of the largest business digital subscriber line deployments, Pacific Bell announced that it will offer asymmetrical DSL to telecommuting PeopleSoft employees under a program called PeoplePipes.

Pacific Bell is rolling out service in Los Angeles and San Francisco, initially offering it to about 300 homes. The first phase includes 1000 PeopleSoft employees nationwide, and eventually, all 7000 employees worldwide can come on board, said Bill Powers, vice president of sales for priority business accounts with Pacific Bell.

Customers are guaranteed speeds of 128 kb/s upstream and 384 kb/s downstream. “But we estimate that 90% of users will get downstream speeds of 1.5 Mb/s,” Powers said. To accommodate the user base, Pacific Bell is equipping all its 255 central offices for DSL. SBC Communications, which owns Pacific Bell, plans to do the same for the 271 COs in its original five-state region.

Most COs will be DSL-ready by the end of the year, Powers said. “Right now we have 120 COs [equipped], and we’ll double that amount by year end.”

Powers claims that in California, 70% of customers fall within the 17,500 feet DSL distance limitation. Customers outside that area will be provided with ISDN or frame relay service. Later in the year, Pacific Bell will introduce its Long Range ADSL service, which operates at 144 kb/s and rides an ISDN facility, Powers added. If customers still aren’t covered, Pacific Bell will partner with Independent carriers for service.

As the PeoplePipes service expands, Pacific Bell will move into other SBC territories and partner with other Bell companies to further augment the footprint. In cases where the regional Bell operating company doesn’t offer DSL, Pacific Bell will work with other service providers, such as Covad Communications, Powers said.

Pacific Bell Network Integration will handle deployment logistics for users. “PBNI will be the single point of contact for PeopleSoft. They can call up with the employee name, address and telephone number and we’ll contact the Bell operating company or Independent and coordinate the installation for them,” Powers said.

Pacific Bell isn’t the only service provider to target large telecommuter populations. Covad independently offers DSL to telecommuters for large companies. “We’re doing the same thing for Oracle and Sun [Microsystems]. We’re providing DSL service to their teleworkers in our cities,” said a spokeswoman. Covad offers service in 22 metro areas across the United States.

PeopleSoft spent several months evaluating service offerings. The company assessed multiple technologies, customer care, equipment options and backhaul capabilities. Neil Hennessy, director of global networks with PeopleSoft, was impressed with PBNI’s ability to support the service. “They do customer care for ISDN and frame services. They had a good story to tell, and they had good first-level engineers on duty.”

The company currently uses ISDN, frame relay, DSL and cable modems, but is not tied to a particular service. “All we care about is bandwidth and cost, obviously. We don’t care about the technology,” Hennessy said. DSL is available, reliable and cost-effective, he added.

Bolstering Hennessy’s observation is an independent study from Keynote Systems, a supplier of Internet performance measurement and consulting services for businesses. During a one-month period, Keynote tracked hourly download times from a single DSL modem and a single cable modem in California. Keynote found that DSL outperformed cable modems (see table).

“Statistically, it holds up that DSL is faster than cable during these hours according to these measurements,” said a Keynote spokeswoman. During a longer period of time, Keynote witnessed the degradation of cable as the user base grew. The study was limited and might generate different results in other geographical areas.

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