May 12th, 1998
DSL in Colorado

05/12/98 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - DSL in Colorado

DaArt Smoot called the meeting to order at 7:00 and introduced the other members of the RMIUG Executive Committee (Tom Bresnahan). The audience consisted of about 120 attendees.

Art then called for announcements from the audience:

Kent Homchick of the University of Colorado at Denver announced that the College of Arts and Media is presenting a new major this Fall in Multimedia Studies. This major will cover all aspects of electronic media design and will have a strong focus in preparing media and content for the Internet. He is interested in talking to individuals who would consider lecturing on elements of the Internet to his Multimedia Seminar class. Topics could include: high speed delivery systems, streaming audio and video, new innovations in web content, VRML design, Shockwave files, Java programming, Applets development and others. He is also looking for individuals who might want to instruct weekend and evening courses in the curriculum. Please contact him at 303 556-8523. The web page for the Multimedia Major is http://carbon.cudenver.edu/mume/multimediastudies.html. His email is kent_homchick@maroon.cudenver.edu.

Art explained the format for the meeting: each of the speakers would present their topic for about 20 minutes, then all the speakers and an additional representative from USWest.net would assemble on stage to answer questions from the audience.

The first speaker was Susan Davey, DSL Marketing Product Manager with US West !nterprise. (Bio's for all the speakers are located at the end of the minutes.) <http://www.uswest.com/com/customers/interprise/dsl/index.html>

Susan started by encouraging anyone wishing to contact her to use her email address srdavey@uswest.com. She explained that DSL is a service that rides over your voice line, with voice and data on the same line at the same time. HDSL is a version of the service that has been used in the field for five years. T1 lines use HDSL. Phoenix and Salt Lake City used single pair HDSL. Salt Lake City works great, but the high temperatures in the summer killed DSL in Phoenix. They were lucky to be able to get service 8000 feet from the Central Office (CO). Therefore, US West decided to switch to RADSL (Rate Adaptive DSL), which works 15-18,000 feet from the CO. This service is splitterless, so US West doesn't have to send a truck to install the service at your house, while HDSL would have required a visit and a wire upgrade. While on the subject of wiring, Susan noted that there may be a problem with DSL service and inexpensive telephone sets.

DSL uses a hub and spoke arrangement. Someone has to be the host, such as a corporate LAN or an Internet Service Provider (ISP). From there it goes out the backbone to the user. Available speeds to the host are 1.544 megabits/sec (Mbps) to 3.0 Mbps, then up to 45Mbps in 3Mbps increments. The maximum speed to the host should increase to OC3 by the end of the year. End user speeds are set at 256 Kbps, 512 Kbps, and 768 Kbps, plus some higher asymmetrical speeds. The actual speeds could be less if the line quality varies.

Q. Can you use ISDN repeaters?
A. No. Repeaters would interfere with the requirement to insure analog voice for 911 calls.

The host uses an ATM termination device, the Netspeed multiplexor. Netspeed was bought by Cisco. The end user will have to use a Netspeed modem. Costs are: $199 for a PCI card, $299 for the modem, or $999 for the router. The end user will also need an Ethernet NIC card, unless you use the PCI card.

The DSL service rides the voice line, splits off at the multiplexor, then goes out to the host. The age of the switch doesn't influence the availability of the service. US West will provide microfilters for the voice phones on the DSL line. The back of the modem has plugs for the cable to the wall, an ethernet connection, and a management connection to provide for software programming changes.

The alternatives to DSL service includes cable modems and wireless satellite services.

The DSL service will not be immediately available in high growth areas that use a Digital Loop Carrier to multiplex the voice lines, but US West hopes to overcome that problem by third or fourth quarter of 1998. The solution for service over fiber is closer than for copper wire service.

Q. Will the DSL service be available over a business PBX?
A. No, it won't work.
Q. How about with Centrex?
A. Not yet. Probably in 6 - 8 months.
Q. Can you use doublers (repeaters)
A. No.

For information, call 1-888-MEGAUSW. All the DSL services through US West use the "mega" prefix.

Some equipment vendors are saying that DSL can support distances up to 33,000 feet from the CO, but that equipment hasn't been tested by US West. Netspeed is working on a new chip that will go enable distances of 22,000 feet. The current service is available 15-18,000 feet from the CO.

Q. Does that mean the modems will be upgradable?
A. You will probably be able to download the upgrade, but some changes could require a chip upgrade.
Q. Will the PCI card be able to download upgrades?
A. You'll probably have to swap out the card.
Q. How far are most people from the CO?
A. Within 3 miles in Boulder. About 40% can pass the loop qualification right now, and that may increase to 90% in two years. Those with big houses in the boonies won't be able to get DSL with the current equipment.

The service area is from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, but not every CO will be able to offer the service.

Currently, you'll have to connect to only one host per line, but they are working on the ability to have two hosts, maybe by December or January.

Q. Can I still use an analog modem on the voice line?
A. Yes, same for faxes, voice mail, answering machines, call forwarding, etc.
Q. Does the analog portion get "full bandwidth" when you add DSL?
A. Voice uses a very small portion of the bandwidth. Some things won't work, like the Radio Shack intercom that uses the phone lines.
Q. Can I get DSL over a plain copper pair without voice?
A. Yes.
Q. Can I lease the modem?
A. Not through US West, but maybe with other vendors. US West can spread the bill over 6 months.
Q. Are there any other providers besides USWest.net?
A. I don't know.
Q. All they told me was USWest.net.
A. Indra's Net will offer it too.
Q. Is the modem a router?
A. No, they're different pieces of equipment, but there were some snafus in the ordering and some people got the router and modem for the same price as the modem.

The next speaker was Spike Ilacqua (spike@indra.com), Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Indra's Net, a Boulder ISP.

Spike started his presentation by explaining that he would be taking about the ISP view of ADSL. This ISP view is the customer view. Being able to get DSL is the question. He emphasized that you have to be within three miles of the CO, and listed all the Boulder CO's. Ward and Lyons will not be offering DSL initially. If you live in a new residential area (started within the last 20 years), you probably won't qualify for the initial offering. But if you live in an older neighborhood, even if the house itself is newer, you will probably qualify.

Cost is another factor to consider. It can be expensive to start, either $110 or $145 for the setup. The price per month ranges from $40 to $300. Then add the cost of the modem (which is really more of a bridge). Mac and UNIX machines will need the $300 bridge version.

Q. How does DSL compare to ISDN?
A. That's coming up with the next speaker.
Q. Can I route DSL?
A. Can run PPP and route.

Comparing the price to a T1: 1.5Mbps costs $600-$700 + $200-300 for CO. But the cost of DSL is twice the cost of basic cable. The Internet Provider will add a monthly charge. USwest.net costs $20, and Indra is charging $25. This price is cheaper than Indra's ISDN service. The ISP charges may be going up. A T1 can handle 24 56K users, but only 6 DSL users at 256kbps full speed. DSL eats up ISP bandwidth much faster. Right now Indra's price is competitive with USWest.net but it actually costs more for the ISP. Indra's Net is partnering with another ISP to hold the costs down.

Spike reported that he didn't expect the service to be installed for a couple of weeks. DSL probably won't have a big impact on Indra's service. It will drive higher bandwidth consumption, like video phones.

Q. What bandwidth does Indra's have?
A. Dual T1.

Some people won't get full 256 Kbps, but even 128 Kbps is quite fast. More people will qualify for 256 Kbps than 512 Kbps, especially if you're further away.

Q. Is US West doing batch qualifications or using their database?
A. Some qualified in batch that shouldn't have qualified. Checking individual phone numbers is the most accurate way to qualify the line.
Q. The qualification database has 30% error rate.
A. Yeah.

ISDN is more difficult to qualify and setup, it's slower, and it's more expensive ($70 per month). But it's more versatile; since you can use it to make voice phone calls. DSL can't call any other host without a service call to US West and a $40 to $85 ($45) charge to change it. But you can just dial a new number with ISDN to connect to a different host.

Q. Is ISDN symmetrical?
A. Yes, there are two channels, each 64 Kbps, and two voice lines.

ADSL is being rolled out to compete with cable modems, which aren't coming to Boulder until 2000, but then again, they promised 500 channels on cable in 1994. Cable modem service just started in Cambridge (MA), and it's pretty good. US West is prepared for that competition. It sells the bundle (DSL plus ISP). USWest.net is a separate company, but US West has an inside advantage.

Other technologies like wireless are coming. If you can't get DSL now, get the competitors' service.

Q. From the ISP standpoint is it more or less of a pain to maintain a DSL connection vs. a modem connection?
A. That remains to be seen. It will probably be slightly more difficult to configure the router and PC.
Q. Does someone have to be on the same switch as the host?
A. No, one could be in Colorado Springs. There will be some tariff issues if you cross the LATA (long distance).
Q. What are the advantages of Indra's Net vs. US West?
A. US West has the advantage setting up the customer with both DSL and ISP services, Indra has to ask US West and it takes a couple days. Once it's set up it's a customer service issue, and Indra's Net is strong in customer support.
Q. Can Indra's tap other customers from Salt Lake City?
A. Theoretically yes, but I don't know. Colorado Springs shouldn't be a problem.

The next speaker was Michael Rabb (mrabb@usvoice.com), president of US Voice Corp, and founder and president of the Colorado ISDN Interest Group (CIIG).

US Voice is an ISDN interconnect, providing ISDN modems, routers, installation, and phones. When Sol Trujillo (US West) announced DSL, Michael admitted to being concerned. Friends asked, "Is ISDN dead?" Michael answered, "No dammit." ISDN is more than Internet access. The last mile is the only part that isn't digital. Long distance has been digital since 70's, with local digital switches since the 80's. We need to digitize the whole thing, and ISDN has an important role to play. - ISDN is a switched technology, voice and data. It's a phone number.

- DSL is point to point. You can't move to a different host without a service order.
- DSL rides analog voice, but ISDN has more digital features.
- ISDN is a clear channel 64Kbps x 2 channels. It's not just for Internet. For example, you can do a video call over ISDN.
- How will the ATM cloud be subscribed or oversubscribed to the backbone? DSL can give you 256Kbps to the CO, but from there it remains to be seen.
- Long holding times: The public switched network is in trouble. There aren't enough phone lines, plus Internet folks stay on line for hours or days at a time. The public switched network was built based on an average call length of 3 minutes.
- ISDN ties up the line too with flat rate in Colorado. DSL takes the Internet users off the public switched circuits.
- Speed: DSL quicker than ISDN.
- Cost: ISDN $60/mo for the line, while DSL $50 in addition to the cost of the voice part of the line, typically $40+ for business.

Q. Can I get dial tone while online using ISDN?
A. With two ISDN channels, you can use one for data, one for voice, and switch between 5 others on hold. With its extra features, ISDN is like having 3 or 4 regular phone lines.
Q. How much is the connection to the Internet?
A. USWest.net and Sohonet are $20/mo, $25 for Indra. ISDN is $40/mo from GTE.
- Availability: With ISDN you can add repeater to extend the availability to areas that are further away from the CO, but not with DSL. You can get ISDN in Niwot and Lyons by back hauling to Boulder.
- Installation costs: ISDN is a $67 one time. For DSL it's $110. The order process for both is difficult and complicated. Use a vendor or hassle US West.
- Wiring DSL is easier in theory. AM radio and big binder groups won't be a problem, in theory. ISDN can't have extensions or other phones or connections on the line, i.e. it has to be unbridged.
Q. What are the equipment costs?
A. $200 for modem, $600 for card, so costs are nearly the same for each technology.

The next speaker was Bill Clendenning (billc@cos.wantweb.net), Director of Sales for American Telecasting, which provides the WantWeb wireless service.

American Telecasting was founded in 1988 in Colorado Springs for wireless "cable". It transmits analog video, "WantTV" using microwave. In 1997 they converted 6Mhz spectrum into 30 Mbps bandwidth, launching in Colorado Springs in September, Denver and Portland last December.

There is no physical plant, because it uses wireless infrastructure using line of sight transmission from Eldorado Mountain. About 85% of the Denver/Boulder area is covered. Data, voice, and video broadband transport is available now, and telephony is being tested. The microwave broadcasts the signal downstream to the user, and upstream requests are handled by the telco.

- The technology is single cell scalable to multi cell structure ala Cellular PCS.
- The company can install a repeater to cover an area shadowed by topography.
- In Colorado Springs they transmit video and data using a broadband repeater 50 miles from the transmission site on Cheyenne Mountain.
- The Wireless broadcast of data is poised for global deployment with companies similar to WantWEB currently providing wireless Internet service in New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Detroit and other places. It only takes 4 - 8 hours to install. A truck comes out to your site to set up the RF receiver, then connects it to your computer.

Q. Is this 2 way?
A. No, currently you have to use dialup for the upstream link. Two-way wireless is waiting for FCC approval. Seattle has had some trials of two-way service with 200 to 300 Kbps upstream.
Q. What frequencies are used?
A. Don't know. 2.1Ghhz?

This service works on any TCP/IP platform, unlike cable modems which have had some problems with non-IBM compatibles.

Q. Does this service send my requested web page to the entire Front Range?
A. Yes, but like cable modems, only the IP address of the receiver that sent the request can pick it up. You need to have the IP address of the modem and the time of the transmission to pick up the requested page. One of their technicians tried to hack the signal but he was unable to do it.
Q. Is the signal encrypted?
A. Encryption is available.
Q. Can you use repeaters to reach areas that are not line-of-sight?
A. Yes, five or six are in use now. If 100 new subscribers wanted service in an area not served, then they would add a repeater.
Q. Do rain and snow cause a problem receiving?
A. None so far. Video was more affected by a recent storm because the disk kept filling up with snow.
Q. What is the up time for the microwave?
A. 99.9996%
Q. What is the size of the antenna?
A. It's small, with a six inch base and a 16 - 18 inch stinger.
Q. Is the same dish used for video and data?
A. Yes, we use a split feed.
Q. How is it connected with the computer?
A. We connect using an Ethernet card. The cost is $375 for the modem for a single user, and $600 for a LAN with 20 IP addresses. But we're ready to "wheel and deal".

The service provides 750 Kbps of downstream bandwidth minimum, since it shares a 30 megabit channel. They can offer less than 750 kbps, or add another channel if the need is there.

Q. Is this service always on?
A. No, it times out after 15 minutes. But the charge is for unlimited access per month.
Q. How long does it take to establish the connection?
A. Same as any dialup connection.
Q. Can we use ISDN as the uplink?
A. Yes, or even T1.
Q. My apartment building has WantTV. Can I get WantWeb?
A. Yes.
Q. How much is the service per month?
A. $69.95 per month, or $49.95 per month with a 12 month contract. On a LAN, it will vary with the number of users.
Q. Where are the modem pools?
A. Louisville for Denver/Boulder, within 10 miles of Eldorado Mountain. In Colorado Springs, they're on Tech Center Drive.
Q. Will trees and buildings block the signal?
A. Yes.

Art quipped that the signal would be slower in the summer. ---

After Bill finished his presentation, Art assembled the speakers on stage to form a panel for more Q&A. In addition, Scott Smith (sgsmit3@uswest.com), Product Development/Marketing with USWest.net from USWest.net joined the panel.

Art asked if all these high bandwidth demands would cause a problem at the backbone level. Spike responded that we've been hearing, "Death of the Internet - Film at 11", for years now. But go ahead and crunch all you want, because they'll just make more. Vendors continue to add capacity to the backbone, such as laying more fiber and finding new technologies to carry more on the same capacity. The telephone companies continue to drive the research so they can get more calls on each line. Scott mentioned the fiber companies - Qwest, Level 3, Williams. In fact, Qwest can handle all the world's traffic now, and Level 3 can handle it ten times over. Bell Labs just announced a new technology to handle 100 gigabit on one channel, so don't worry.

Q. USWest.net offers ADSL Internet service at $20/mo, but ISDN is lots higher. Why?
A. Scott - ADSL utilizes completely different technology and is cheaper to offer. ISDN is a circuit switched connection (expensive) while ADSL is packet switched (cheaper). Also, ISDN is inefficient, it 'owns' the connection. Voice can use as little as 8Kbps, but you have a 64Kbps connection for a single voice line.
Q. What about AODI (Always On Dynamic ISDN)?
A. This service will use the 16Kbps D channel to stay on for low bandwidth applications like email.
Q. What about WantWeb subscription? How does it connect to the backbone?
A. WantWeb has 3 T1's upstream to the ISP, and a DS-3 is in progress.
Q. How many customers are the target?
A. Bill - 4000. Spike - DSL drives oversubscription because of the higher bandwidth demand. As it gets faster, demand increases for video, telephony.
Q. Does US West guarantee a minimum transmission rate?
A. Susan - It depends on the host ISP. Scott - I spoke with a customer who qualified for 768 Kbps, but 500 Kbps is all he got. There are several reasons why customers may not see the higher speeds they may have qualified for. (1) Rate Adaptive means just that, it adapts to line noise and may lower the data rate, (2) the MegaCentral serving all subscribers is oversubscribed, (3) the Internet connections from our platform is oversubscribed, and (4) Internet traffic averages about 300 Kbps. Susan - The telecommuter connected to the office is the one who would benefit from higher speeds.
Q. Won't the ATM cloud to MegaCentral be saturated?
A. Susan - It will be monitored. Now only 1% of capacity is being used.
Q. Is anyone hooked up yet?
A. One person had it.
Q. Is DSL compatible with Centrex?
A. Susan - That service is not offered yet.
Q. Will there be a static or dynamic IP address?
A. Susan - That depends on the ISP.
Q. What is the bridging situation? Can I get my neighbor's packets?
A. Scott - The NetSpeed DSL modem is set up in a bridged mode that simply converts ATM to Ethernet. It is a wide open connection that presents some security concerns. Spike - Indra's Net does some filtering to prevent that. Cable modems have the same problems and solutions.

Art then thanked the participants and attendees, and adjourned the meeting at 9:00 pm.

URL's of interest: US West, http://www.uswest.com
US West May 4 ADSL press release,
Indra's Net, http://www.indra.com/
US Voice Corp, http://www.usvoice.com
Colorado ISDN Interest Group, http://www.ciig.org

US West Network disclosure page http://www.uswest.com/com/disclosures/netdisclosure403/co_data.html

Speaker Bio's ------------- Susan Davey Product Marketing Manager for MegaBit Services at !nterprise, a division of US WEST Communications. Susan has worked for US WEST 6 years starting within the sales organizations into Product Marketing and has been with the DSL team for a year. She has a Masters degree in Technology Management from DU and a Marketing degree from University of Utah.

Spike Ilacqua, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Indra's Net, has been working with the Internet for eleven years. From 1989 to 1994 he was the sole system administrator of the first and one of the largest public-access Internet sites in the country, the World (Software Tool & Die, Boston, MA), developing new strategies and software for this emerging industry. An accomplished programmer, Spike has authored billing systems, credit card processing software, CGI scripts, and numerous management tools. He is proficient in the UNIX, DOS, Windows, and Mac operating systems and in most networking technologies in use on the Internet today. Spike has been a frequent speaker at conferences, user groups, and technical organization meetings.

Michael Rabb is president of US VOICE CORP, a local ISDN products reseller and voice mail services company. In business for over eight years, US VOICE sells ISDN phones and modems, and provides installation and local access coordination services. Michael has been involved with telecommunications for over 15 years as telecom manager for companies in this area and is a graduate of the CU-Boulder Master of Science program in ecommunications. He is past president of the Association of Colorado Telecommunications Professionals and is founder and current president of the Colorado ISDN Interest Group. Michael can be reached at 530-5100 or at mrabb@usvoice.com.

Bill Cledenning - Director of Internet Sales, American Telecasting, Inc. Joining American Telecasting, Inc. (ATI) in September 1995, Bill was responsible for the development, growth and management of a sales team in ATI's Western Division encompassing 15 markets in 5 states. In late 1996, when ATI decided to expand their wireless video product line to include data services, Bill became an integral part of the wireless Internet team. Focusing his effort on the task of research, development and implementation he quickly provided the leadership necessary to qualify this product as a viable service in the ATI portfolio. Transitioning from the development team to the operations team, Bill accepted his present role and immediately began development of sales procedures to implement this state-of-the-art technology marketed as WantWEB. Prior to joining ATI, Bill was involved in the cellular industry associated with Western Wireless Market Manager responsible for growth of all their systems throughout Colorado. Before that he was VP Sales of XCell Cellular a RSA Management company. Bill's cellular career started in Denver as one of the initial employees of the McCaw owned Cellular One. During his 5 year tenure Bill held a variety of sales management positions. An avid bicyclist, skier, rock climber, mountaineer and golfer Bill finds time to enjoy numerous other activities with his family including coaching his kids' soccer teams.

Scott Smith
Product Development Manager, Internet Services
U S WEST Communications
1999 Broadway, Suite 700
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-6348 Work
(303) 896-8029 Fax
(303) 259-2168 Pager
Scott has been with the !NTERPRISE Data Networking division of U S WEST for 7 months. He develops Internet access related products for small businesses utilizing analog dial, ISDN and xDSL transport technologies (U S WEST.net). Prior to coming to U S WEST he worked for a wireless telecommunications company in Golden, CO. He has a \ B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering and is a M.S. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at CU Boulder.

Respectfully submitted by Tom Bresnahan (tbrez@rmiug.org).

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