What is the whole story with FREE DSL?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 7, 2000

Question

A friend told me about a new Free DSL service that is being offered for high speed Internet access. Is this true and if so, what is it all about?

-Eric

Answer

This question was answered on February 7, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


The “FREE” business model that has been created by the Internet continues to roll on The most prevalent of the Free Internet providers at this time is NetZero (www.netzero.com), which is a service that is advertiser supported for dial-up (modem) Internet users This service provides connections up to 56K and is readily available in most metropolitan areas Other free services include www.bluelight.com (Kmart and Yahoo), www.altavista.com and www.freei.net These services are all predicated on the fact that the user will already have a modem and a phone line I believe that in the near future you will begin to hear about companies that will actually pay you to use their service! It was just a matter of time before someone offered a “FREE” Broadband or High-Speed connection to the Internet A company called Broadband Digital Group has launched a service called FreeDSL (www.freedsl.com)

The ability to provide DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service to your home or office computer is a bit more complicated then a simple dial-up connection, however Here is an overview of the whole process:

DSL is a method of transmitting large amounts of data on standard copper phone wires that are typically used by telephones and modems In order to make use of this technology, however, the telephone company in your area has to install special equipment at their CO (Connecting Office) and you must be within a certain distance of the CO in order to get the service If all of this is available in your area, you must install a NIC (Network Interface Card) and a DSL modem on your computer to complete the installation FreeDSL is requiring you to already have this equipment on your system or they will give you a free DSL modem if you refer 10 people that actually sign-up for the service by April The average cost of the NIC and DSL modem can range from $150 to $350, so the “FREE” part of this deal suddenly becomes not so free, unless you can get 10 of your friends to join along with you In addition, DSL must already be available by your local phone company in your neighborhood You will also have to submit a profile about yourself so that their advertisers can target you for their products and services via a software interface This interface will broadcast advertisements to you whenever you are connected to the service and cannot be turned off during these times The service will begin to roll out in April based on major market response to this offer In other words, unless a large number of people in the Phoenix area that qualify for DSL pre-register at their website, it is not likely to be available any time soon Since most people that are willing to pay for the service can’t get it right now, the chances of this company providing service in the Phoenix area during its initial rollout are slim I would expect that the earliest that you will see it available is sometime next year They have bigger fish to fry like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.

You can check for the availability of DSL in your home or business by going to the USWest website at http://megawot.uswest.com/availability/welcome.asp or by calling toll free 1-877-665-6342 Be aware, however, that on several occasions when I attempted to get friends and family connected and was told that the service was available, it turned out not to be available Apparently they really don’t know until the installation is attempted; so don’t get your hopes up!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 7, 2000

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