SBC, Sprint Beef Up Network Services

SBC Communications Inc. and Sprint Corp. last week made separate announcements of enhanced network services for corporate users.

Both companies are competing for networking customers, but Sprint's services are primarily nationwide, whereas SBC mainly serves 13 Southwestern states.

As a regional Bell operating company, San Antonio-based SBC offers the convenience of the local-loop and long-distance voice and data services that aren't always available from national carriers such as Sprint, an SBC spokesman said. The announcement makes SBC's frame-relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode and private-line services regionwide offerings.

Also last week, SBC announced that Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores in Oklahoma City is expected to go live with SBC broadband connections to its 300 shops early next year.

"We were a good fit with SBC because our core states are within their core states," said Paul Clark, Braum's CIO.

Braum's needed efficient connections for its intranet and e-mail systems, and for transferring data in its custom point-of-sale and inventory management applications, Clark said. Some of the stores will be connected by 56K bit/sec. frame-relay ports, and others will have Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or enhanced DSL with speeds up to 384K bit/sec. SBC was chosen over several large service providers a year ago, Clark said.

Meanwhile, Sprint officially announced the managed network services that it began slowly rolling out in the spring. It now has 20 business customers, a spokesman said. The service includes the ability to monitor any LAN server or application, according to Sprint officials.

The service gives Sprint the ability to monitor traffic over competing providers' networks as a means of keeping customers' networking costs down, said David Willis, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

"It's a somewhat enlightened offering and makes them more carrier-neutral," he said.

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