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- Not everyone is a fan of providing high-speed Internet service over anything but the most up-to-date technology - fiber to the premises.
The belief that leading-edge businesses won't continue to lead the pack with trailing-edge technology is pervasive, but TDS Telecom
believes small and mid-sized businesses have a different calculation.
TDS has introduced its Symmetrical Dedicated Internet, a DSL product that provides business customers with equal upload and download speeds of up to 45 megabits per second (Mbps).
The Madison-based broadband company, which serves nearly 26,000 business customers in Wisconsin and more than 73,000 nationwide, is marketing the technology to businesses that want a faster option to existing DSL without having to commit to costlier data connections.
Dave Wittwer, chief operating officer for TDS, called the product more of a natural evolution of an existing product than a competitive response to other products. "It's more of an enhancement of what we typically provide," he said. "We want to offer services to get them the speed they need without having to leapfrog to the next level, which would be fiber."
According to TDS, the service will allow business customers to transfer larger files and use the additional bandwidth for Virtual Private Networks or for hosting content-rich Web sites.
There are distance limitations, however. TDS said it will guarantee broadband network speeds within the predetermined service range of three to 45 Mbps within 5,000 feet, and from three to 20 Mbps within 12,000 feet from a central office.
The 45 Mpbs compares to average speeds of six Mbps for existing DSL service, Wittwer said.
TDS' new service won qualified praise from James Carlini, an adjunct professor at Northwestern University
and president of the business management firm Carlini & Associates
. Carlini has been critical of phone companies for their unwillingness to invest in what he calls real broadband - fiber to the premises that offers one gigabit per second of broadband speed - but he said the TDS product is better than another well-publicized effort.
"If they can get 45 megabits per second, that's a heck of a lot better than Project Lightspeed," he said, referring to an AT&T
product that offers up to six Mbps of broadband.
Carlini acknowledged that 45 Mbps of speed represents reasonably good service for small business, but he said business consumers can do better. "Most of the traditional phone companies don't want to make the investments that need to be made to provide a [fiber] broadband infrastructure that will serve business needs for the next 50 to 100 years," he said.Related stories