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
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 email@example.com.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
Q. Can you use ISDN repeaters?
A. No. Repeaters would interfere with the
requirement to insure analog voice for 911
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
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
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)
For information, call 1-888-MEGAUSW. All
the DSL services through US West use the
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
A. You'll probably have to swap out the
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
Q. Can I get DSL over a plain copper pair
Q. Can I lease the modem?
A. Not through US West, but maybe with other
vendors. US West can spread the bill over
Q. Are there any other providers besides
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 (email@example.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
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
Q. The qualification database has 30% error
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'
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org),
president of US Voice Corp, and founder
and president of the Colorado ISDN Interest
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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 (email@example.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
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
Q. What about AODI (Always On Dynamic ISDN)?
A. This service will use the 16Kbps D channel
to stay on for low bandwidth applications
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
Q. Does US West guarantee a minimum transmission
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
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
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
Art then thanked the participants and
attendees, and adjourned the meeting at
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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