Open Challenge to the Broadband Access Purveyors

FRAMINGHAM (03/10/2000) - Like you, I want to know how to break the WAN bottleneck that throttles our data traffic, sidelines convergence plans and chokes e-business applications. I want to know how digital subscriber line (DSL), cable, fixed wireless and native LAN services will or will not get me to broadband nirvana. That's why I'm staging the Broadband Access Showdown debate on Tuesday, May 9 at NetWorld+ Interop in Las Vegas.

When I started planning this presidential-style debate, my idea was to bring together companies specializing in those services. But readers said a debate that pits cable vs. DSL, for example, might generate a lot of sparks, but not much light. Buyers aren't so interested in which technology is superior, but rather how leading service providers are blending these technologies to boost the bit rate for remote offices, teleworkers and other corporate locations.

So I'm challenging AT&T, MCI/WorldCom, Qwest, Nextlink and SBC to send a top executive to our Showdown. These companies will have until Wednesday, March 29, to confirm their participation. If any of the companies refuses to pony up a top exec, we'll publicly skewer the yellowbelly and challenge a rival to takes its place. Not to worry though, in 14 of these Showdown debates, covering more than 60 companies, only craven companies have refused.

My choices represent a range of newcomers and old-timers, long-haul and local.

These companies have all acquired or partnered with companies that help them provide fixed wireless, cable or DSL offerings. You'll see how they intend to mix and match technologies to get you more bandwidth at reasonable prices.

I'm open to the idea of adding a sixth company if you can convince me that the vendor has a great story to tell or will really challenge the other service providers on stage. Drop me an e-mail, and make your case.

During the debate, our vendors will face tough questions from industry experts, and then they'll turn their attention to each other in a lively round of vendor-vendor questioning. We'll also let the audience get its questions in before we let our service providers go.

Make plans to join us at 12:30 p.m. on May 9, and send me any questions you want us to ask these providers. But for now, AT&T, MCI/ WorldCom, Qwest, Nextlink and SBC, will you rise to my challenge?

- John Gallant

Editorial Director

jgallant@nww.com

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