Covad Introduces Array Of Small-Business Apps


One week after losing critical discounts on residential line sharing, courtesy of the Federal Communications Commission, Covad Communications Inc. is bouncing back with a raft of new enterprise products targeting small-business customers.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based competitive broadband telco will debut a slate of offerings on March 4, ranging from a beefed-up Web hosting lineup to two new services aimed at expanding business customers' options for Internet access.

It's all part of Covad's new focus on products for small businesses, a segment that now makes up 40 percent of the company's business, according to Tom Thayer, vice president and assistant general manager of Covad Broadband Solutions.

First up: a new line of Web-hosting products to help small businesses gain a foothold on the Internet. Covad's research indicates that about 55 percent of all small businesses have yet to create their own Web site.

"So obviously, it is a market opportunity for us, but one we think if we approach in the right way we can accelerate the rate at which that 55 percent start adopting and recognizing the value of a Web site," Thayer said.

The four Web hosting options, which sell for a flat monthly fee, range from a basic $9.95 package, which offers businesses their own e-mail domain, to a $79.95 premium package with 50 e-mail accounts, 250 Mega-bytes of Web storage and 10 Gigabits per second of monthly data transfer.

On the access side, Covad is introducing a new high-end asymmetric digital subscriber line product, offering speeds of 3 Mbps upstream and 384 Kbps downstream for $149.95 per month. While designed for small businesses with multiple Internet users, it also will likely find a place as the wired access link sitting behind 802.11 hotspots that are popping up in cafes and restaurants these days, Thayer said.

Covad also will reshuffle its symmetric DSL offerings, dropping its 192 Kbps and 1.1 Mbps offerings while repricing the 384 Kbps, 768 Kbps and 1.5 Mbps products.

"We are getting rid of two of those products, just so we can offer a little bit more coherent product line while compressing the price points," Thayer said. "There wasn't a whole lot of value added for 1.1 (Mbps) versus 768 or 1.5."

On Tuesday, Covad also will debut two new services on a trial basis. They include an access product that allows businesses to set up a wireless 802.11 local area network, with equipment provided by partner Linksys Corp.

"Our perception is, why would you get broadband access if you weren't going to consider wireless, with all of the convenience that provides?" Thayer said. "It seems like a logical pairing."

The other new service offering is remote computer access, which allows businesses to tap into their central computer systems while on the road. Covad is pairing up with to offer that service.

Pricing information for these two services was not available at press time.

The recent FCC ruling likely won't affect these business products, but the new enterprise lineup may help Covad deal with the impact of the ruling, Thayer said.

"It helps to maximize the number of dollars we can get from each customer, so that cost of acquisition part of our cost element gets spread out over a larger number of revenue dollars," Thayer said. "It's still just the beginning of a strong movement in this direction, where every one of the things we are doing now will continue to be improved over time."