Title: Senior vice president of technology and operations and data services, AT&T Broadband. Among her many assignments, Ms. Marshall is responsible for carrying out AT&T’s Multiple Internet Service Providers initiative.
In December 1999, a 57-page report from the Clinton administration, called “Towards Digital eQuality,” outlined why customers should be able to choose their Internet access provider. Last November, AT&T kicked off a $20 million trial in Boulder, Colo., to test carriage of multiple ISPs over its broadband network. Eight ISPs initially signed up; since then, half dropped out, leaving Juno, WorldNet, EarthLink and AT&T’s Excite@Home in a trial involving upward of 300 users. A market trial in Boulder is next on the agenda, followed by a significantly larger commercial rollout in Boston this fall.
According to Ms. Marshall, AOL was among the 10 ISPs who were invited but never showed interest. “I guess that they had a lot going on,” she said in regard to the no-show.
Flexibility: “An ISP can connect at a local point of presence, ride on the AT&T backbone or bring its own backbone and peer-to-peer with Excite@Home (whose backbone is a subset of the AT&T backbone).”
Standard fare: “We will have a set of standard interfaces-generally in the category of back office, business-to-business links. There will be tools that sit on a desktop so consumers can understand who to call-ISP server, AT&T network, PC manufacturer-for a particular problem. We’re working with [the ISPs] to get our branding on the desktop as well as theirs.”
Deployment: “Scalability is always a big concern-this network was originally designed for a single bundled service. We’ve had to re-architect the network, change the systems that help manage it and use different equipment. The burden on the care function is greater.
“Right now we’re assuming we’re going to do a truck roll for every install.”
Pace of rollout: “What’s slowing us down is getting all the technology in place. The emergence and deployment of new routing technologies are going to pace the rollout. Right now, routing tools don’t exist to make the system as scalable as it needs to be: We’re limited to 10 ISPs. Open access is really going to be managed access for the time being.”