Enterprise set to move to Look

Toronto-based Rhythms Canada (Rhythms) – a joint venture between Canadian CLEC AXXENT Inc., and Englewood, Colo.-based Rhythms NetConnections Inc. – is making its way into the Canadian DSL market with new technology, single network connection speeds ranging from 144Kbps to 7.1Mbps guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Quality of Service (QoS). Also, the company has partnered with Montreal-based Look Communications Inc., to provide high-performance, DSL-based (digital subscriber line) Internet connectivity to enterprises.

According to Rhythms’ president and CEO, Norbert Dawalibi, Rhythms will benefit greatly by leveraging the experience of its two parent companies.

“NetConnections provides us the technology, the know-how, the people and the expertise to help us get it going in Canada,” he said. “AXXENT provides us the access in terms of presence and the central offices of a telephone company.”

He added that Rhythms had recently completed 45 central offices (COs) with plans to have presence in 150 COs by the end of 2000, something Dawalibi believes “is well ahead of our competitors outside of the telephone companies.”

Jordan Worth, an analyst with Toronto-based IDC Canada sees the announcement as Rhythms’ way of creating key Canadian partnerships as they begin to roll out their services.

“They’re in the process of trying to create strategic partnerships and get a few core clients they can build on as they roll out to different parts of the country,” he said. “Essentially, they’re leveraging the intellectual property, product and technology development of the U.S. corporation and rolling it out in Canada. The QoS involved proprietary technology in network management tools that Rhythms Corp. has created in the U.S. It’s a different technology than what the incumbents have.”

Approximately 90 per cent of all remote connections to corporate networks and to the Internet are made via dial-up modem over traditional copper telephone lines, according to Rhythms Canada. This type of connection results in bandwidth bottlenecks at the last mile of the network, resulting in slow connection speeds and dropped connections.

According to Look and Rhythms, their agreement is expected to provide Look’s business customers with Internet access speeds up to 125 times faster than traditional dial-up modems, extend Look’s high-speed Internet reach and complement the company’s high-speed wireless service, Look Ultrafast Internet.

“One of the best things about these guys (Rhythms) is they have a fabulous array of products. The beauty of it is that they offer a package which allows us to offer to our customers varying speeds dependent upon what they need for different prices,” said Look’s director of marketing, Internet Business Solutions, Peter LaMantia. “The combination of SDSL (Synchronous DSL) and RADSL (Rate Adjustable DSL), varying speeds and the service level commitments they have is great. We’ll be able to provide, in writing, to our customers that this is the service they’re going to get as a minimum and no one is doing that in the market place right now.” Rhythms is guaranteeing a four-hour repair time in terms of response and returning service to the customer, said Dawalibi.

LaMantia added that Look’s partnership with Rhythms is considered more an addition to Look’s broadband wireless offering than a standalone service. “We can cover the entire market where anyone with just DSL will be limited to those areas within four or five kilometres of the central offices. We’ll be able to go outside of those with our wireless,” he said. “The combination of the technologies allows increased penetration into the market place.”

He added: “We also have a number of value-added services…[and] our strategy will provide those other services so they (customers) can take best advantage of the infrastructure.”

Worth believes Rhythms Canada’s new “technology is not going to make or break the DSL market. It’s just a particular flavour or version that will distinguish them from their competitors.” Worth added that a combination of marketing, service, pricing, aggressiveness, and customer support and satisfaction will truly define the winners in the DSL market. “They’re trying to get their feet in the street pretty fast,” he said.

Look hopes to launch its new service by the end of June.