Sprint says 'no way' to service outages

Fancy a deal with your telecommunications provider that stipulates 100% network-availability? That's what Sprint is offering in the US, with a range of service-level agreements that basically forbid any outages for customers lucky enough to obtain an end-to-end synchronous optical network (SONET) connection. Sprint will guarantee availability on all four of its key data services: frame relay, ATM, Internet and intranet services.

US telco Sprint has introduced a broad range of service-level agreements (SLA) that basically forbid any outages for customers lucky enough to obtain an end-to-end synchronous optical network (SONET) connection.

The carrier announced that any user sitting on what it dubs a Broadband Metropolitan Area Network (BMAN) will enjoy a full 100% network-availability guarantee on all four of its key data services: frame relay, ATM, Internet and intranet services.

The guarantees will be backed up by financial penalties against Sprint for outages. Any outage caused anywhere between user sites, that lasts for one hour or less, will earn the user three days of free service. Outages that last longer than one hour will result in six days of free service.

According to Sprint officials, customers who do not sit on a BMAN ring will now be upgraded to a 99.9% availability guarantee, including the IP services.

The kicker for the 100% availability guarantees will be whether or not locations qualify as BMAN sites. BMAN represents Sprint's effort to locate SONET rings owned by regional Bell operating companies or competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC) that essentially match the horsepower of Sprint's long-distance SONET network. Unlike rivals AT&T and MCI WorldCom, Sprint generally has not built or bought its own CLEC networks in large cities to provide end-to-end broadband connections.

Sprint says there are qualifying BMAN rings in 30 cities, with 16 more due to come online this year and 44 next year. However, whether any user site in those cities is considered to be a BMAN location is treated on a case-by-case basis.

In another SLA upgrade, Sprint Internet access customers will gain their first ever latency guarantees. Sprint is now guaranteeing that transit across its Internet backbone will take no longer than 75 milliseconds on average. Customers on Sprint's dedicated intranet network will enjoy a 60 millisecond guarantee. Neither of the delay guarantees includes the local loop.

Sprint today announced Managed Network Services for ATM, a follow-on to its successful frame relay managed router program.

The ATM managed program will incorporate the user's choice of routers with ATM interface cards or ATM switches at each site, said Mickey O'Dell, a Sprint group manager for managed services. Supported equipment will include specified switches and routers from Nortel, FORE Systems, Kentrox and Cisco. Prices start at $300 to $400 per month per site in addition to ATM transport charges.

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