ISDN: Better Connections for Business?

Information on the integrated service digital network (ISDN) and a listing of service providers.
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What is ISDN? Simply put, ISDN, which stands for integrated service digital network, is a telecommunications standard for sending voice and data over a single line. Because ISDN can transmit more information than an ordinary phone line, two users might, for example, use one ISDN connection simultaneously to talk and share computer data. ISDN can also offer an economical means of fast long-distance data transmission. (See case study, [Article link].) How easy it is to get ISDN service or to implement it depends in part on how much your phone company is prepared for and interested in selling it to you. ISDN is not available everywhere, and its providers' commitment varies, as does pricing. And good technical support is crucial: in last October's issue of Telecommunications magazine, a team from Alabama's Auburn University described a painful attempt to test a less than "plug and play" ISDN service, from a carrier that had left users to figure out the details themselves. It took six months to get Auburn's pilot ISDN system working!

Interest in ISDN is increasing. Spokespeople for the regional Bell operating companies told Inc. that common business uses for ISDN include telecommuting, videoconferencing, and fast Internet access. Still, of the few companies that provided statistics, fewer than 1% of their customers currently use ISDN. For more information about ISDN in your area consult one of the companies below or call the Bellcore National ISDN Hotline at 800-992-ISDN.

Company: Ameritech Number for ordering info: 800-TEAMDATA Setup charge: $140 to $200 Typical monthly cost*: $35 plus usage Available to (% of customers): 80%

Company: Bell Atlantic Number for ordering info: 800-570-ISDN Setup charge: $33 to $94.75 Typical monthly cost*: $19.50 Available to (% of customers): 100%

Company: BellSouth Number for ordering info: 800-858-9413 Setup charge: $60 to $250 Typical monthly cost*: $91 to $94.50 Available to (% of customers): 70%

Company: NYNEX Number for ordering info: 617-743-4000 Setup charge: $150 Typical monthly cost*: $38 Available to (% of customers): 80%

Company: Pacific Bell Number for ordering info: 800-4-PB-ISDN Setup charge: $70.75, plus a $125 fee that's waived if you don't disconnect within two years Typical monthly cost*: $24.06 Available to (% of customers): 90%

Company: SNET Number for ordering info: 800-430-ISDN Setup charge: $265 Typical monthly cost*: $64.45 to $85.23 Available to (% of customers): 100%

Company: Southwestern Bell Number for ordering info: 800-992-ISDN Setup charge: $45.50 to $485 Typical monthly cost*: rates vary with packages Available to (% of customers): no response

Company: US West Number for ordering info: 800-999-2021 Setup charge: $110 Typical monthly cost*: $69 Available to (% of customers): 50%

Company: Cincinnati Bell Number for ordering info: 513-566-DATA Setup charge: $72.59 Typical monthly cost*: $111.90 Available to (% of customers): 100%; 84% readily and at normal tariffed rate

Company: Nevada Bell Number for ordering info: 702-333-4811 Setup charge: $227 Typical monthly cost*: $56 Available to (% of customers): 95%

*For a single, basic-rate ISDN business line. In some cases rates are higher outside metropolitan areas. Rates change and can vary by state; call the numbers listed for up-to-date information. -- Chart researched by Robina A. Gangemi

Last updated: Apr 1, 1995




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