Cablevision Gets to Business with DSL

Another cable operator has discovered that working with digital-subscriber-line companies doesn't necessarily mean sleeping with the enemy.

Lightpath, Cablevision Systems Corp.'s business-to-business subsidiary, has teamed up with equipment vendor Next Level Communications Inc. to launch voice and digital-subscriber-line data services over existing copper lines in New Jersey, Westchester County, N.Y., and other parts of the New York area.

Cablevision-which serves more than 3.4 million customers located primarily in the New York area-will offer DSL services to businesses not passed by cable lines in order to avoid cannibalizing its own base of high-speed cable-modem customers, a company spokeswoman said.

Cablevision added that it will explore DSL-deployment opportunities in residential multidwelling units.

The MSO said the arrangement makes it the first cable operator to use Next Level's interactive DSL-broadband system to offer high-speed-data and telephony services.

To enable the services, Lightpath will deploy Next Level's line of "Broadband Digital Terminals," "Universal Services Access Multiplexers" and "ETHERset" modems.

"We see this as yet another step in our commitment to deliver high-quality services well beyond traditional cable in a cost-effective manner to our customers," Cablevision senior vice president of network management Wayne Richardson said in a press release.

Using the DSL platform to tap the lucrative businesses-data and voice market is quickly becoming more than a trend among the cable crowd. At least two high-speed cable-modem Internet-service providers, High Speed Access Corp. and Excite@Home Corp., are moving quickly on that front.

HSA struck a DSL-deployment partnership with NorthPoint Communications Inc. in October 1999. The aim of that agreement, according to HSA, is to provide cable affiliates with a window to businesses that are not passed by cable lines or cannot afford expensive T1 services.

Under that business model, HSA plans to share its DSL revenues with local cable operators.

HSA president and CEO Dan O'Brien said the company recently lit up commercial DSL services in Denver and Atlanta, and it plans to launch it in three more markets before the end of the year.

O'Brien added that HSA doesn't have an affiliation agreement with Denver cable incumbent AT & T Broadband, which still has an exclusive arrangement with Excite@Home. However, Charter Communications Inc., an HSA partner, owns cable properties adjacent to the Atlanta metro area.

Excite@Home and DSL carrier Rhythms NetConnections Inc. agreed in April to provide high-speed-data service in markets where the cable ISP does not have a presence. At the time, Excite@Home said initial DSL targets would include New York and Los Angeles.