Covad is Taking the Pain Out of Ordering DSL

Covad Communications has developed a software platform that lets customers order digital subscriber line services online and also automates the process so the lines get turned up sooner.

The xLink Platform initially lets Covad's ISP partners order DSL lines by tapping directly into Covad's ordering system.

The platform will allow corporate customers to order directly as well.

The platform eliminates the use of faxes and electronic messages along the ordering chain, points where errors can easily be introduced, Covad says.

Ordering a new DSL line still takes a month or so because the actual copper wires must be installed and leased from the established local exchange carrier in the customer's area. That process is unavoidably time consuming, Covad says.

But once the line is installed, xLink will enable customers to add and delete services within seconds online. So if a customer wanted to add extra voice channels to their DSL service for a month, they could do so via a Web interface with the service provider's network.

Customers could simply drop the extra voice channels when they no longer needed them.

Covad will be trialing voice over DSL by year-end. The company is developing the technical know-how to do so with GST Telecommunications.

The service will put up to 24 voice channels as well as data on a single DSL line at less than the cost of a T-1, which can also handle 24 voice channels. When voice channels are not being used, their bandwidth is turned over to the data channel.

Covad figures smaller businesses that never could afford T-1s will buy the service, as will larger companies that are opening new sites.

Corporations will be slow to swap out their T-1s, Covad says, because that requires scrapping their T-1 gear. But the flexibility of the DSL voice/data service may make such upgrades desirable in certain cases.

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