In a competitive move aimed at the cable industry, Verizon Communications
said Wednesday that it planned to add 10 million high-speed-data lines to its
inventory this year, with a focus on suburban and rural areas.
Verizon -- the Baby Bell phone company from Virginia to Maine -- offers
digital-subscriber-line service, a direct competitor to cable-modem service.
The company has 36 million lines that are DSL-ready. After adding 10 million
this year, it will have 80 percent of its access lines DSL-capable. Verizon said
it has 1.8 million DSL subscribers.
In a prepared statement, Verizon indicated that its decision came in response
to deregulatory policies affecting DSL adopted last month by the Federal
Kevin Martin, a Republican FCC member, supported the broadband policies but
opposed other steps favored by FCC chairman Michael Powell on deregulating Bell
voice networks in residential markets.
Initially, some Bell-company leaders complained that the lack of deregulation
on the voice side would deter investment on the deregulated-broadband side. Some
suggested that Martin's vote hurt the rollout of broadband.
"I applaud Verizon's statements this morning renewing the company's
commitment to the deployment of new broadband technologies," Martin said in a
"This pledge to build next-generation broadband networks is great news for
American consumers, telecommunications workers, equipment manufacturers and for
competition," he added.
The expansion plans include pushing the distance between the
DSL-access-multiplexer units (DSLAMs) and the lines they serve beyond the
current 15,000-foot limit.
Verizon will also install DSLAMs in more than 3,000 neighborhood terminals
and add control gear in 1,000 neighborhood switching centers.
Verizon is not releasing the total cost of the DSL-improvement project. In a
release, vice chairman Lawrence Babbio noted that cost will depend on the
economy, other company initiatives and any imposition of wholesale voice-service
regulation by federal or state officials.
"At Verizon we firmly believe that there will be a next phase of industry
growth founded on high-speed, always-on networks that enable a whole new
generation of products for the home and small business," Babbio said.
"Just as Verizon is a leader in wireless and in offering innovative bundles
of services, we intend to be a leader in broadband," he added.
The Baby Bell also announced that it will be exploring other
broadband-technology strategies including fiber-to-the-home connections in order
to further expand its reach to residential areas in 2004.
On a related note, Microsoft Corp. announced Wednesday that it will push back
the launch of its bundled MSN 8 Internet-service-provider package with Verizon
DSL access into mid-2004.
Part of an agreement forged in June, the bundled MSN service was to debut
with Verizon customers by the end of this year.
The delay is being blamed on snags with the setup and installation