Workers at AT&T Labs will be among the first in the
nation to telecommute over broadband, using Comcast Corp.'s network and @Home Network for
The deal is a first for @Home's @Work division, which is
focused on high-speed business solutions and is expected to weigh in heavily on the
revenue side of @Home's balance sheet.
Norm Schryer, division manager broadband services research
for AT&T Labs, said AT&T will use Comcast's two-way, broadband link to connect
AT&T Labs' Florham Park, N.J., site and @Work's regional data center. The distance
between the two is estimated at about eight miles. Seventy-five workers will take part.
Nobody would discuss the financial side of the deal, except
to confirm that Comcast will send the bill. In general, executives with @Work and Comcast
said, business telecommuters pay two to three times more per month than residential @Home
users, who pay about $40 per month.
To make sure the arrangement was secure, AT&T worked
with Comcast and @Work to develop "virtual private networking" -- a network
within the network that is digitally sealed off from would-be snoopers -- common to
business local-area networks.
"That was one of the big wins here -- making it secure
enough for AT&T Labs," said Matt Fanning, vice president of sales and marketing
He said Comcast did need to run a connection between the
AT&T Lab site and the @Work regional data center, referring to a common hurdle facing
cable's quest to lure business users to its fast, always-on connection. Largely, cable
plant doesn't pass business parks.
Don Hutchinson, senior vice president and general manager
of @Work, said the AT&T nod gives instant validation to the category of high-speed
telecommuting over @Home's managed, nationwide network.
"It's an interesting and compelling commitment from
arguably the most educated perspective possible," he said. "For AT&T to work
with Comcast and @Home -- to make the choice of cable for virtual private networking,
instead of building their own -- is an important endorsement.
Schryer said the move "allows researchers to work at
home with all the capabilities enjoyed when in the office."
The service, branded "Comcast@Work Remote," is
part of Comcast's overall high-speed offering, said Matt Fanning, vice president of sales
and marketing for Comcast.