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Sprint ION's $100/mo, 8Mbps Home Service Tanks 257

Dr. Zowie writes: "In the current gloomy high speed connection market, a ray of light was Sprint's ION service. For $100/month, they would provide local phone service, long distance service, and 8mbps down, 1mbps up DSL-like digital connection. I've been waiting for the service to turn on to write a review about it -- but the service has been discontinued and all orders are being cancelled. Too bad -- ION was like a geek dream come true." ION was only available to a relative handful of people, but it sure sounded good. Anyone have suggestions for this sort of combination service?
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Sprint ION's $100/mo, 8Mbps Home Service Tanks

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  • geez, I pay over $100 and only get 512mbps.. Qwest Bites
    • "only" 512 mbps? I'd pay a whole lot more than $100 for that kind of speed . . . :^)
    • geez, I pay over $100 and only get 512mbps.. Qwest Bites

      I honestly hope that you meant kbps. Otherwise, I WOULD BE GLAD TO TAKE THAT SHITTY CONNECTION OFF YOUR HANDS!
      • geez, I pay over $100 and only get 512mbps.. Qwest Bites
        I honestly hope that you meant kbps. Otherwise, I WOULD BE GLAD TO TAKE THAT SHITTY CONNECTION OFF YOUR HANDS!
        Given that "mbps" is "millibits per second," I too hope "kbps" is what the original poster meant to say. (512 Mbps (megabits per second), on the other hand, would definitely be nothing to complain about. :-) )
    • hmm.. i think my m and k keys are switched.. damn qwerty hehe

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:18PM (#2449342)
    I don't see it.

    Having everything on one line is a technical utopia...
    but I'd rather see everything over one network.

    You see.. even if everything comes in over one line for $100/mo.. how is that different from $30/mo for a phone line, and $50/mo for DSL?

    Also.. what do you mean 'long distance'. Long distance service is not relveant... you get that with any phone line.
    • by _newwave_ ( 265061 ) <slashdot@paulwaA ... inus threevowels> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:23PM (#2449374)
      Actually, they had two levels of service. For around $140/month, you could get 8mb/2mb DSL like Internet service, 2 local phone lines, and long distance service. For $120/month you could get the same service at 4mb/1mb speeds.

      If you don't see it...please point me to any service where I can get comparable speeds for under $400/month.
      • XO Communications will get you a 56 kilobit per second connection for $25/month or less. I generally get 3-5 kilobytes per second on downloads from them, quite a bit faster than 4 millibits per second down, which translates to 0.00005 kilobytes per second.
    • Uhm.. Well, where I live, I pay $90 for 1.5 down/384 up for DSL. I also pay an additional $20 for phone and $15 for long distance.

      But what is this 8Mbps? or 8mpbs? or what? Someone want to fix the caps on that? If I could get 8Mbps/1Mbps for $100, HELL YEAH that would be a good deal.

      $100 for more bandwidth vs $135 for less.

      Where's the question?

    • one, it was higher bandwidth than you'll get for your $50/mo dsl... also, it was easy to add 2nd (3rd, 4th, etc) phone lines on the same copper pair, which admittedly isn't earth shattering, but very much convenient.

      it's really a shame sprint ion is going down. i was on their site just last night wondering if it'd be in my area soon. guess not.

      i'm trying to remember if the phone service included long distance minutes (which would be very much relavant), but it did include voice mail, caller id, and the like... much like typical pcs service.
    • by Manuka ( 4415 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:25PM (#2449388)
      Long distance is not included with any phone line. Long distance is provided by a third party. in the case of ION, your long distance was handled by Sprint, and you got a block of minutes.

      What most people didn't know is that calls between ION nodes were treated as local, since they were routed over the ION ATM network, and nevcer had to jump onto the telco's lines.
    • how is that different from $30/mo for a phone line, and $50/mo for DSL?
      Um, it's a hell of a lot of bandwidth for very little cost. For $50 a month, you can generally only get something like 384/128 DSL.
    • Also.. what do you mean 'long distance'. Long distance service is not relveant... you get that with any phone line.

      It was some sort of bulk deal which, apparently, for most people was the same as having flat-rate long-distance.

    • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:29PM (#2449410) Homepage
      Okay, under my current set up I pay:

      $89/month for 1.5/384 DSL
      $30/month or so for phone service
      $5-10/month for long distance service

      So for $100/month I could get:
      8Mb/1Mb data
      local calling
      500 minutes long distance included (and rest being at like 7-10 cents/minute)

      For a power user it was definitely a deal because you get more bandwidth and a consolidated bill.
  • by Force ( 15324 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:19PM (#2449346) Homepage
    For $100/month, they would provide local phone service, long distance service, and 8mbps down, 1mbps up DSL-like digital connection.

    8 millibits per second? No wonder it tanked. :-P

    • by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:37PM (#2449452) Homepage Journal
      Yup, 8 millibits per second. This counts as the first implementation of IP over humpback whale song, with ones encoded as "AHOOOOOOOOHHHhhh..." and zeroes encoded as "EEEEEEeeeeEEEEEeeEEEEE..."

      Not only do you get phenomenal 8mbps download speeds, but also this development brings e-commerce and pr0n to the cetacean community.
      • Yup, 8 millibits per second. This counts as the first implementation of IP over humpback whale song, with ones encoded as "AHOOOOOOOOHHHhhh..." and zeroes encoded as "EEEEEEeeeeEEEEEeeEEEEE..."

        Not only do you get phenomenal 8mbps download speeds, but also this development brings e-commerce and pr0n to the cetacean community.

        Yes, there are serious advantages to be had here (no need to lay undersea cable; your routers are powered by krill and are usually protected by international treaties). But I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the economies of scale.

        OK; that was a joke; get it? Economies of scale? Whales don't *have* scales. OK, how about this: another downside is that your devices only work in promiscuous mode.

        No dice there, either. Right, so moving on along, the one real effect that Sprint shutting down ION will have is the likely tanking of the alternative club scene in Overland Park, Kansas.

        Now, if you live in the KC area and don't find *that* one funny, you probably just got down-sized. Just like the whales are going to be down-sized.

        I guess it's just not working for me today...

    • by d.valued ( 150022 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:42PM (#2449474) Journal
      Nice play with semantics.

      Now, seriously.. Not many people really need this 'service'. Sure, it's nice to have less-than-zero ping times for Q3A (or whatever massively multiplayer game thou hast the time to waste playing), or for *loading kernels, but outisde Silicon Valley in the more 'traditional business' areas, not too many people would really need it.
      The worst part is that those bandwidth would have to be peak bandwidths, as that much pipe costs an awful lot of money. (Have you priced T3's and OC's lately?)

      The dot-bomb implosion, the fall of Nasdaq, the recessionary economy, and the 11-9 aftermath killed 'em. People with the money to spend started to cut their personal costs, and this sort of service went poof.

      I believe that the only way to get reliable fat pipe for the forseeable future is from the established telcos, and it's going to be a little more expensive.

      • Actually, MMORPG / FPS gamers don't really care about bandwidth. At least, those with the faintest clue.

        MMORPGs are tuned so that there are a maximum number of updates needed per second that keeps it feasible for a 56k player to be there. This may be changing now, but it's the case for Asherons Call and Everquest (that's why you get moved out of a city if there's too many people there).

        FPS gamers likewise don't send many bits. I had a Tribes 1 server, running full-out maxxed settings, and it was using about 45kbits/second with 24 people on the server.

        What gamers really care about is -latency-. It just happens that the higher bandwidth solutions generally have faster routing on their hardware.

        This is not to say there's not a lot of techno-clueless gamers out there that pursue maximum bandwitdth at all costs....
      • A friend in Southern California has (had?) this service.

        Actually, ping times suck. Nothing less than 100 ms. It handles all your voice/data on a single ATM line, and (IANAIG "infrastructure guy") none of the switches between here and Kansas know how to split the signal. All your traffic goes to the Sprint office in Kansas and is split from there. He said it's bad for Quake.
    • We used to get 8 Mbit/s in New Brunswick/Vibe, but that's capped at 2Mbit/s due to backbone limitations now. Not such a pipe dream, though. We're still laughing with 2 Mbit/s.
  • Was the fact that your voice lines were trunked over the circuit. Also, bear in mind that ION wasn't a DSL service per se, but rather an ATM service - business customers got it over high-speed lines.

    I'm still looking for a VOIP telco that will let me use my existing connection.
  • I get 8Mbps down/1Mbps up with their new cable modem service in Brooklyn, NY. Why would I want to pay almost 3 times that for Sprint's service?
  • Way too expensive. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UnixFerEver ( 221392 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:21PM (#2449355)
    Home phone service worth ~$20 a month.
    Long distance worth ~$20 a month. (Currently free with many cell-phone plans)
    Broadband access worth ~$40 a month.
    Total = $80 a month.

    I just don't see 100 bucks a month being a particularly good deal. It would be convenient to have everything under one package, but not worth paying a premium.
    • you can get 8Mbps for 40 bucks? cool
    • Yeah, but what are you getting for $40? 512kbps? 1MBps? Surely the extra $20 would be worth 8MBps!! I think it would... I pay $55 for 1MBps in Wisconsin.
    • by Tix ( 17111 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:52PM (#2449525)
      As a (soon former) ION customer, it is/was a good deal:

      On my setup known as the XT-2 plan
      2 Voice lines - originally VoDSL but now VoIP over DSL
      250 Minutes LD included $0.07 after
      2 static IP addresses
      Data connection with 40msec pings throughout the Sprint backbone (not so good for gaming but it was ALWAYS 40msec!)
      1Megbit/sec down guaranteed - I was getting around 2.5Mbps
      128Kbps upload guaranteed - 600-900Kbps for me
      and I was @ 14278ft
      The closer to the C.O. you were the faster it was.

      I called my local telco today to start preparing for the shutdown;
      DSL $69.95 for 384Kbps-1.5Mbps down and capped at 128Kbps up.
      ONE voice line for $34.98 with no calling features other than "standard" Call-waiting and call-forwarding.
      So that means for $104.93 I won't have half the capability that I had under ION.
      I just wish Sprint had done a better marketing job in few cities they were in, but 4000 customers is a lot with virtually no marketing.
      But $4 BILLION is a lot of money over 5 years, so I can't blame them for cutting their loses.
    • Where the hell can you get 8 Mbps/1 Mbps for $40 a month?!

      Speakeasy [], the last decent Boston-area DSL provider, charges $299 a month for 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps SDSL. That ain't chump change

      My guess: Sprint actually figured out that providing that much local bandwidth was going to cost WAY too much to add enough backbone bandwidth to support a widespread rollout, so killed it. Simple economics.

    • Home phone service worth ~$20 a month.
      Long distance worth ~$20 a month. (Currently free with many cell-phone plans)
      Broadband access worth ~$40 a month.

      Talking to your girlfriend in Albuquerque AT THE SAME TIME as downloading hardcore pr0n at 8Mbps: Priceless.
  • I wonder if Sprint's "compensation for installation" includes sending a Sprint worker out to your house to tear down and confiscate your hardware. It'd be pretty sad if they did. I'm sure some pissed off ION users could probably hack together a Neighborhood-Area Network [] with it...That'd be really sweet.
  • Offers phone (local), digital cable, and cable modem. For the digital cable and cable modem (which gets at least 8Mbps on a good day) I pay $114/mo. Their phone service is comparable to the phone company's or cheaper, ~25/mo?
    • Jesus, where do you live?

      Here in Philadelphia I pay $112/mo for Comcast analog basic cable plus 3 HBOs, and cable modem. They don't do phone service, so I'm stuck paying ~$40/mo to Verizon (and it wouldn't be that much less if I gave up my fax line).

  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:22PM (#2449369)
    they might have succeeded. I remember hearing sprint ION ads non-stop on the radio about 2 or 3 months ago. I guess it must have been available in my area (Houston, TX). Unfortunately, the ads made no mention of this 8mbps down/1mbps up. This was the first time I had heard of the speeds associated with this service. All the radio ads ever said were "faster than dial-up", which is an advertising phrase I tend to ignore as easily as "we'll pay off your old car!".

    $100 sounds like a bargain for this sort of thing, and I would probably have snagged that service if I had known about the speed!

    Of course I realize that none of the broadband services cites specific speeds, but even saying "up to 8mbps" would have immediately attracted my attention.
  • Didn't the 8Mbit service have something like 2 or 4 phone lines... what the hell would i use them for!?

    Since moving to the USA i've had a cellphone for 3 months and still haven't had anyone call me.
    • The base service was only 1 line I believe, but it was cheap to get up to 4 lines and the 4 line package came with an extra static IP.

      But anyhow, what do you do with all those phone lines? Become a micro ISP of course :). A linux box, a couple modems, and you can have your own BBS/ISP. Why? Because you can :)
  • FutureWay [] is a Canadian provider that is setting up a service like this. My brother just bought a new house (in Richmond Hill, for any Toronto locals), and the neighborhood is pre-wired with fibre to every house, and it will eventually provide digital phone, television, and data. Unfortunately, their website is a little lacking on hard facts (example from the faq: "Q. How fast is the Internet Access? A. Futureway's Internet service is the fastest available" derrr, does that mean it's petabit?), and his house isn't quite built yet, so I can't comment on quality or speed.
    • I don't know what technology ION was (planning on) using, but a company in Denmark, DixaNet, recently folded, after trying to offer the same kinds of service, phone, DSL, fax and various monitoring services.

      In Denmark all (including local) calls are metered, and they were trying to offer DSL and non-international calls at a flat-rate, along the tune of $60/mo. - something like half price, even when not making a lot of phone calls.

      Apparently they went the dot-bomb way and failed to get second round financing, but it would have been sweet.

      Almost everybody could see the fall coming though, it just didn't seem to be a concept that would be able to make ends meet.

    • AFAIK, all new residential developments in Canada have fibre to the door.

      The expensive part of providing new service is laying the lines. Fibre itself is as cheap as borsht, so the telcos have been throwing it down for a good half-dozen years or so, just in case they need to use it.

      I'm looking forward to that dark fibre being lit up, and bringing me audio/video/data/voice/everything services for under $100/mo, with pay-to-keep options on the audio/video...

      (That, of course, entails the entirely hypothetical scenario of RIAA finally catching a clue and realizing that if I could have (a) free, low-quality (FM) songs as samples, and (b) a buck-a-pop high-quality (CD) songs as keepers, I'd never pirate again...)
  • Vapor (Score:2, Informative)

    Sprint promised delivery over three years ago. I'm not sure I would characterize it as a "ray of light", maybe a "burst of steam". This article was written in 1999: []

  • by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) <`gregb' `at' `'> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:29PM (#2449409)
    OK, so it's an Orwellian headline, but you do start to wonder if Microsoft's Windows-as-service will be a force to reignite consumer broadband in a few years.

    "Push" sure didn't get consumer broadband to the tipping point; neither did e-commerce, voice over IP or Joe Cartoon's [] not-ready-for-TV rich media.

    But here's the thing: Short of Intel declaring that all machines using its chips need a broadband connection, about the broadest way to encourage Bubba PC User into broadband is to tweak the OS in such a way that it forces involuntary connections -- connections for things like product activation, Passport use, etc.

    There's a mountain of DSL research that says Bubba was buying DSL (when he bought it at all) primarily for the always-on feature, not for the speed. Folks don't like the dial-up process. Well, Microsoft is heading down a path that will force a lot more dialing up, so it's a safe bet there might be a lot more interest in always-on connections.

    Yeah, I know: A chicken-and-egg scenario -- is Microsoft betting that pervasive Internet connectivity means less consumer fussing over the forced connections or are they assuming that people will find easier ways to make connections if they're forced to do it more often? Not sure the answer matters, really... but it's safe to assume XP (or, more likely, the sure-to-be-more-invasive successor to XP) will send more consumers down the broadband path.

    • For the always on, not the speed?
      That's gotta be about the most idiotic use of money I can imagine.
      I bought it for the speed.
      Modem vs DSL is like kindergartener reading aloud vs professional voiceover person reading aloud.
      One is intolerable, one is enjoyable.
      Not that I'm saying you are stupid...I'm saying the "average consumer" in this scenario is stupid.
    • I don't think that passport will generate enough traffic to necessitate broadband on it's own, but MS has certainly broached the subject of providing apps online on a pay-per-use basis. I certainly wouldn't want to try running Word remotely over a modem. Using vi over a modem is bad enough...

    • Bubba was buying DSL for the always on *and* not having the phone tied up. Assuming that DSL was available in Bubba's neck of the woods, which it mostly ain't.
  • by zarqman ( 64555 ) <tm&zarqman,com> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:31PM (#2449421) Homepage Journal
    for those interested in what ion was offering, check out: []
  • It will be missed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kurtras ( 65722 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:32PM (#2449425) Journal
    I don't want this to sound like an obituary, but ION really was a great idea. Though it never came to my area, it was just like some of the other FTTH services that we saw earlier in the 90's - voice, data, and eventually video all on one line, through one provider. Admittedly, ION had issues, but overall, the service was good, with plenty of bandwidth, and you got everything from one provider. Plus, as I recall, their TOS/AUP was not as bad as most DSL providers - that is, you could run servers, and add routers/home networks.

    In short, it was spectacular service with high prices and low demand. So, it died. Oh well.
    • by recursiv ( 324497 )
      If it was really such a great idea, why isn't it flourishing? In America's open capitalistic marketplace, how can such a great idea fail? Perhaps, "under a different set of circumstances, it would have been a great idea" would be more applicable. Perhaps that factor was that it wasn't profitable, in which case, from a business standpoint, would make it a rather bad idea. I still trust the open market to sort out the winners from the losers.
      • If it had been made available in my area, I would have taken it. My *single* phone line and DSL bill is more the ION's bill would have been for much higher bandwidth access and *two* phone lines. In addition, I would have gotten a few static IP addresses instead of a single DHCP / PPPOE address. Unfortunately, every time I checked, it wasn't available in my area.
      • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:01PM (#2450200) Homepage

        Because as we know, products live and die in the marketplace based solely on how great the idea is, and profitability is one singular factor rather than an amalgamation. You never have to worry about things like capital for advertising and manufacturing, relationships with other vendors, and unexpected resource limitations, let alone less "open" issues like exclusive deals between distributors and competitors, legal but unsavory tactics like "Scorched Earth" policies (Wal-Mart's phrasing, not mine), and so on.

        The market's a wonderful thing, but when we say it rewards what's profitable, we often take that to mean that it rewards delivering the best possible product at the best possible price. But those two things are not identical. Many people recognized that DR-DOS was a better product than MS-DOS; at the start of the PC era, CP/M-86 was arguably a better product than PC-DOS. It lost first due to missteps by Digital Research and later on due to Microsoft's unethical OEM contracts. Note that I'm not commenting on the legality, but in my opinion requiring your customers to pay for your product whenever they use a competitor's is pretty seedy--and it's undeniably taking active steps to avoid competition on the open market.

        I can't comment about Sprint's ION service specifically, but having worked in telecom for a while, I know that even for the largest companies there are a lot of factors that can get in the way of rolling out services in a timely fashion that you can't control. You're dependent not only on your vendors but usually on your competitors for critical parts of any large order, which can make for a marketplace which--while workable in its own way--is certainly nothing Adam Smith could ever have envisioned.

    • If you read the TOS, they did NOT allowed to have servers...

      I had ordered SprintION, and although the sales drone said that they could test the line with my existing DSL, but that was wrong, my line did not qualify and the return call from SprintION claimed it was due to my existing DSL. At that point I just said forget it.

  • From the sounds of most of the U.S prices, you still have it a lot better than most of us in the UK.

    We've got 1Mbps down / 256Kbps up in our house, which currently costs around £200 a month. (U.S $280 give or take?). It's with one of the better providers, and I understand there's been some decrease in the rates recently, but satan'll be shovelling the snow off his drive before we have anything containing the words "8 Mbit" for less than 5 kerjillion pounds a year.
    • US ahead? You should try Canada! I get a 1mbs connection for USD$25/mo. For the same price, cable offers 3mbs/320kbs (I don't get that much throughput in my area though). For USD$65, you can get 3mbs/800kbs DSL from For USD$130 you can get 6mbs/1mbs or for slightly more, 2.3mbs/2.3mbs on a business line (costs double a residential line). We've got it good up here.
  • I had it, it sucked (Score:3, Informative)

    by KOIMenace ( 529426 ) <denis@d i m i> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:38PM (#2449456) Homepage
    Never saw better then 1024/768. The line was done more then it was up. Ended up having to program SprintION's Tech Support number into my cell phone. The bill was a joke. Got the first bill for $212. Called said and had it corrected, payed $196, then for then for the next 4 months had a credit. Called them and explained the problem. Was told it would be fixed.. NOT.. Finally after six months I moved and disconetced the service. Was told since I broke the 2 year contract I would have to pay $400.00 for the equitment and install. Gave them my new address and waited for the next bill.. It came, still showing a credit.. Never thought I would have a hard time trying to get a company to take my money.. No wonder there going belly up..
  • ION was only available to a relative handful of people
  • It's too bad that fell through. I would've surely paid $100 to cover my phone service (local and LD) and 8M/1M of internet. I know a lot of people that would be willing to pay this.

    Between this and the whole @Home and other Broadband services going belly up, I hope us geeks can still keep a constant high speed interent connection. I don't know what I'd do without one.
  • This is my third provider in 1 FING year!!!!!!!!!! I love my ion. fast, nice newsfeed, no qwerst...... guess I am gonna drop another 200$ for broadband........
  • Well, I guess now I know why Sprint wasn't returning my calls regarding our ION installation. :-p

    We were getting the business plan for data-only purposes. That was $256 a month for ~1 mbps upstream and ~5 mbps downstream at our location (zone 2 out of 10 in terms of distance to the switch).

    Does anyone know of any competitive alternatives (that hopefully won't die in the next couple of years!) here in the SoCal area? The closest I've seen is wireless T1 (1.5 mbps fully symmetrical) for about $600/month.

    Sheesh, how disappointing!

    299,792,458 m/s...not just a good idea, its the law!

    • What's your planned vendor for the wireless T1?

      T1 service in my universe is still about $1,000 a month.

      My PacBell DSL connection has gone down on me (or become so slow as to be worse than dialup, which is about the same thing) three times in the month and a half that I've had it, and tech support is miserable. Not a happy camper :-(.

  • Now we just have to hope fiber to the home [] is successful enough to become wide spread. Geek dream? It's 7Mbps down and 4.5Mbps up....don't know that considered fast enough to make it a dream but...
  • Houses only... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dane23 ( 135106 )
    My boss has the Sprint ION service here in Austin Texas and he loves it. One of the main problems that I saw with the service, after talking to him about it, is that only homeowners could get the it. No apartments. There goes more than half the market right there.
    • Heh, Microsoft thinks of China as a one CD country. They buy one CD and everyone uses it.

      I guess they see apartments as one line neighborhoods. I'm sure I could offset the price of the line by offering 802.11b/a to all the folks in my building.

    • Nonsense. I had ION and I live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building. I loved it.

  • Ion details (Score:3, Informative)

    by Loualbano2 ( 98133 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:51PM (#2449516)
    It wasn't dsl-like, it was dsl. They wanted you to think it wasn't because of all the negative attention dsl has gotten lately, with all the dsl companies around drying up.

    It was an interesting concept, but poorly implemented. It used Lucent (Ascend) Stinger DSLAMs, which are not a good choice. It seems the Stinger has one que for all traffic on the access (DSL) side, which meant that your voice data had to wait in line behind your data traffic. I was waiting to get it here to see if you ran into problems with moving tons of data and trying to be on the phone at the same time. Too bad that won't happen.

    The service was never meant to be a home service, it was meant for businesses. When that didn't take off so well they switched gears to try to get customers, which is why service areas were lacking for the home market. I know that in Denver for example, if you are not downtown you can forget about it.

    This is terrible not just because it was an opportunity to get a lot of bandwidth for cheap that is now gone, but because this is a BIG nail in the coffin for other DSL companies. No one was funding these projects and they have yet another big excuse with this news. Something along the lines of "If Sprint couldn't do it, why do you think you can?" comes to mind.

  • major problems. (Score:2, Informative)

    I don't think the service really worked the way Sprint said it would. A friend of mine got it installed in his apartment (a special case apparently) and he had nothing but trouble from the start. Sprint told him that they tested to his apartment and that he would have the full 8Mbps speed on his connection. After it was installed, he was getting about 1 Mbps but it was bumped to 4 because we have a very good friend who worked in the ION division (I guess not anymore) in their network monitoring area. The voice service was crappy quality and he wasn't happy from the beginning. After two months he got DSL and never looked back. ION looked a lot better on paper than it worked out.
  • I keep saying (how many posts now... ???) that it is costs/profit that are finally causing companies to sanely get out of the business. Currently there are more than enough contenders selling broadband services at under the cost to provide the service (How many have filled for bankrupcy recently, or come close @Home, Rhythm, Northpoint ???)
    They know they can't sell the service for more than $100 because no one would buy it. They know that they can't make money at a 100 dollar price point. Wisely they decide to leave the business alone until profit margins get better
    • Further to that, it's time for everyone to wake up and realize that the telcos are losing money on local services. It costs them *more* to provide you with local service than your line charges account for.

      Deep pockets, business calling, and long-distance charges are helping offset the loss.

      That, and per-minute cellphone charges...
  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:52PM (#2449524) that they aren't widely available. It's the same with traditional DSL. There is a certain percentage of people who want it, but they're scattered over the whole country, many in small towns and rural areas. The buildout costs are high enough that it's expensive to reach these people, but without a sufficient subscriber base, your service will fail. I've dealt with people in areas where getting anything over 33.6 kbps is damn near impossible. For them, ISDN is still high-speed access, and many can't even get that. Satellite? Yeah, it's there, but it's still too costly, and the latency is a huge drawback. Cable? Yeah, when it works, and assuming you have a local staff competent enough to maintain it properly. Wireless? Possibly, but the cost of the radios is way too high for consumers.

    There's been talk here about public-access 802.11b networks in cities. That's fine, but small towns could benefit more, assuming you could find a way to get the data out to the Net affordably. These people may not see broadband for a long time unless someone gets really creative.

    And as for ION, I would have gotten it if it was available, and I know other folks who would have as well. Perhaps they just couldn't afford to have expanded the service, but expanding into new areas is the only way to succeed. And where was their marketing? I haven't seen an ION ad in years.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is in early field test now in Palo Alto,
    also I think in a couple of countries in Europe.
    Subscription prices being mooted are in the
    $40/mo range. A shakedown test rig simulating
    live TV feeds through it is running in a lab here.
    Getting the content providers on board is the
    biggest if at the moment...
  • by 2Bits ( 167227 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @06:57PM (#2449545)
    I live an area in South San Jose, California, and I can't get cable modem, DSL, or anything else faster than the 28kbps on the modem. The only high-speed alternative is the Sprint fixed wireless (the diamond-shape antenna).

    But I refuse to do business with Sprint because they screwed us up once, and caused a lot of damage to my credit history.

    Two years ago, we moved to a new house, and thought that we had notified our long distance carrier. But after a month, we figured that Sprint long distance jumped in to take our account, without our consent, and charged us $2.71/min to call NYC. The total charge was about $70. After 6 months of phone calls and tons of frustrations, Sprint even dare to give that to a collection company. And that put a nasty spot on my credit history. Eventually, we tried to get over it and paid the god-damned amount.

    However, we swear not to give any business to Sprint anymore. We immediately cancelled all our PCS accounts (two of them, and at an average fee of $180/mo, as we were always over the limit) which we had for more than 2 years.

    And we discover Sprint did this to a lot of people, including their long-time customers.

    So, even if Sprint can provide any high-speed access at a low cost, and even if I don't have any other alternative, I'll give shit to Sprint.

    This ION thingy is born dead, and good for them.

  • My phone bill averages $60 to $80 a month, depending on how many calls to Europe we make each month.

    My broadband internet access is $45/month with nearly defunct @Home. Running any sort of server through my broadband connection, like a mail server to make up for their incredibly unreliable email, is a violation their draconian AUP.

    The alternate choice is DSL with PacBell/DSL. The service that allows me to run a server was about $70 a month, the minimum download speed guaranteed is 384k (it could be as high as 1.5M). The upload speed is a paltry 128k (same as @Home). I refuse to sign up for a service that has such a slow minimum guaranteed speed and they won't come to my house and measure it for me before I commit to at least a year of service.

    The next higher package from PacBell had very nice upload and download speed, but was priced way out of my budget at about $170/month.

    Oh, well. I can keep hoping something will come along that is affordable and unrestricted. Hell, it's not like they need to do anything other than provide a data pipe. I'll handle everthing else.
  • They are my DSL provider, and I have 8mbit down and 3mbit up FOR ONLY $69 a month. With 3 static ips even :)
    • They provide DSL service for my townhouse complex, and I have to say they are an absolute bunch of jackasses that are incompotent to do anything . That's just my experience with them.

      When I moved in with them, I found out for $60/mo I get 1.5Mbit SDSL with 1 static IP. Great I thought, how much for an extra IP. $20/mo. Uhm.. *cough* WHAT?

      Oh well, I'll use ip forwarding. I order the line, they say, "Great we'll call you on Monday to schedule for the end of next week" on Friday. Monday came and went. Tuesday came and went. Wednesday I call them and they have no record of my order, well, fine.. I place another order.

      A week goes by, I call them - they say, "Yep, got your order, you're probably going to be installed next week at the latest." Ok. I wait for the install phone call, never get it. I call them in another week, "Hi, when am I getting installed?" - I get, "Oh well we're upgrading our central office there, it will be done in 3 weeks then you can be setup."

      That was 3 months ago. I still have not heard anything conclusive and every time I call them I receive "It will be done in 3 weeks." I now am waiting for my Earthlink DSL.

      I will never do business with ATG, mostly because I feel lied to - and I boycott companies that straight out lie to me. I sincerely hope they go under.. I'd feel different if this was a one or two time event, but this is after about 8 phone calls hearing the same thing... and their supervisors parrot the same thing.
  • The few people I know who had it were happy with it. I like the idea of integrating it all. Sprint could do it, you could have one long distance, wireless, local and broadband solution, they should have thrown wireless in. I'd love to have one bill in the $100-$150 range that covered all of my communication needs; if they were smart they'd ink a deal with DirecTV or Echostar to provide DBS as part of the one bill package.. I think the cost issues people are raising are a little beside the point. I think that to get a comprehensive package like that it is going to cost on the order of $100 or more a month. Part of the reasons all these broadband companies are biting the dust is because they were selling something for nothing. In most places, good DSL really costs more than $40 or $50, it jsut can't be that cheap to build out and run and if a few companies chanrge those kinds of prices for it then all the others have to follow suit.

  • MMDS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yogensha ( 181588 )
    MMDS is a superior wireless technology that has been around for over 30 years. It's currently used mostly for wireless analog CATV service, but all sorts of manufacturers (ie Cisco) are making gear that uses this spectrum. It sits right above that unlicensed 2.4Ghz stuff at 2.5Ghz. MMDS BTA's are generally include a 35-mile radius from a central POP.

    We're a small rural ISP in New Mexico and we're looking at teaming up with an MMDS CATV provider to combine our services to provide digital cable along with digital wireless internet at speeds up to 45mbits/s. There is also gear to do VoIP, so we can eventually team up with a CLEC or become one and provide dialtone as well. All over the same pipe. Neat eh?
  • I just signed up w/ Cavalier Telephone. I hadn't heard about them til a friend told me about this particular CLEC. They had a very sweet deal. I switched my local & long distance to their service & signed up for their MVL (multi variable line) dsl. I now have ONE REASONABLE BILL A MONTH (about 135$.)

    In return I get, local, caller Id, long distance at 9 cents a minute anytime, broadband and 5 STATIC IPS!. The bandwidth I signed up for is 768 kbps (which because it's a MVL line turns out to be around 60 -70 KBps.) AND they don't block any ports and have no problem with you running servers!

    The only problem they DO have, is with you competing with them (I read their TOS and they do have a 'no compete' clause.)

    So, in short, check w/ you local CLECs and see what type of super deals they might have. And research the company to see if they'll be sticking around for a while too!

    For those of you who don't know. CLEC = Competitive local exchange carriers (i.e. The other white meat!)

  • Sprint's horrid wireless broadband service [] says the same thing...

    We are suspending our effort to acquire new residential and commercial Sprint Broadband Direct customers.

    I guess Sprint internet is not doing well right now.
  • What the fuck is wrong with the telcos? I pay almost 120 bux a month for my idsl, thats 12K! both directions. Thats some damn good profit margin on that.

    Why cant the damn telcos understand there are people out there willing to pay over 100 dollars for high speed access and bundle of options?

    All the good ISP's are dying out because they leveraged too damn high during the .bomb times. Covad is making LOTS of money, they filled chapter 11 because they borrowed a shitload of money. Rhythems is gone, Northpoint is gone (My apartments highspeed provider, and only high speed access around!)

    I'm rather sick of this, I want to pay good money and cause im 16000 feet from the co, I cant get dsl.

    -Dsless in Seattle.

  • The list of services (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kevinv ( 21462 )
    ION is a great service. For a few more weeks at least.

    My cost is $150 a month here's what I get:
    8Mbps/1Mbps DSL (mine actually clocked out at 6M/800K)
    2 static IP addresses
    4 phone lines (on one pair wires)
    Voice mail
    750 minutes of US long distance
    1-800 number (well 1-888 number)

    In addition, the DSL does NOT use PPOE. The service agreement was very lienient, allowing me to run my own web/mail/etc... services. I couldn't resell any of those services (couldn't become my own ISP) and they had a lot of CYA notes for copyright infringement.

    During code red/nimda inbound port 80 was never blocked.

    Initial install was a typical DSLHell story, and the whole system for about 4 months. I went through 4 ION boxes before the system stablized. Its been rock solid for the last year and half.

    I'm going to miss my ION. It was worth every penny.
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:26PM (#2450130)
    I worked on the Sprint ION project for over a year as a software engineer, and I got to know the system pretty well.

    The reasons it ran into such massive monetary and technical problems are involved, and many I don't even know about. But I do know a little, and the ION project is still a fascinating system regardless.

    (please forgive the acronyms and jargon, some of this may be a bit obscure if you are not familiar with ATM or switched networks)

    Integrated On-demand Network

    ION was one of the first projects to bring converged digital services to the consumer/small business. This meant digital phone service in addition to high speed broadband service.

    Sprint decided to implement all of these services over an ATM network. ATM AAL2 rt-vbr (realtime variable bit rate) was great for carrying compressed voice traffic over switched digital networks. AAL5 was used for IP transport (ala classical IPoATM). And for management of the end point devices, the RISH's as they called them (Residential Integrated Services Hub) there was an ATM AAL2 cbr (constant bit rate) connection.

    So, you had a DSL line rated at 8Mbps downstream and 1.5Mbps up. Over this DSL connection was an ATM layer, which in turn supported the three PVC's mentioned above for voice,data and signalling/mgmt.

    At the time, the speed itself was a big plus. 8Mbps/1.5Mbps was way more than most DSL providers offered. In addition, you also got four phone lines that shared the voice pvc. Four phone lines and data over a single copper pair!

    The voice channels were configured for VBR ATM traffic, which meant that you only used part of your 8/1.5Mbps bandwidth for voice traffic when you were actually making calls. For every call in progress you ate about 64kbps of bandwidth. As soon as the call was released, the bandwidth was again available for data communications.

    The business oriented ION service allowed you to plug in as many voice lines as you wanted (up to about 32 max, simply plug in more voice cards) and could use T1 or HDSL connectivity depending on your configuration. And again, you only ate into the data bandwidth when calls were actually in progress.

    Those are all the well known features, but there was also a lot of possibilities that Sprint had dreamed up for ION.

    Since everything from Sprint's internal backbone out all the way to the customer's RISH was ATM, you could configure ATM SVC's with true Quality of Service. Were arent talking IP URGENT flags, this is true, real time quality of service. Things like video conferencing between ION customers was possible, with no jitter, no degraded voice quality. it was perfect. And only ION had the capability to provide such high quality of service features directly into the home (you need ATM for this level of QoS)

    Video on demand was another popular topic. Internet video suffers from all kinds of congestion and low bandwidth. ION promised high speed DSL service with ATM QoS that would provide seemless, high quality video transmission.

    In short, ION had a number of strong technical features in the architecture itself, which could provide a number of services which could never be supported over traditional internet broadband.

    "On the bleeding edge, you simply bleed..."

    That was a favorite quote made by a fellow developer. ION was ambitious. And everything about ION seemed to call for bleeding edge technogloy, from networking equipment to development tools, to provisioning and managment.

    The network layer, HDSL, ATM AAL2/5 PVCs to the home was technically challenging. The switches required to take multiple OC3 connections from the DSLAM's that all the RISH's connected to had to support ATM AAL2 vbr, AAL5, and IP over ATM. These were incredibly expensive switches to handle the SVC soft switching and IP ATM routing/switching. Every regional location had to have one of these bad boys and at a price of roughly 2.5 million each, they racked up a steep cost very quickly.

    ATM is also a switched networking protocol. For every customer, there were three PVC's which had to be manually provisioned into the various ATM switches and DSLAMs. On top of that, every voice connection (phone line) required an SVC to be setup, and connected to the desired location. Soft switching telephone networking was and is a relatively new system, and it was both expensive and difficult to maintain.

    The software developed in house to support ION was also complex. Everything from order entry to configuration to network provisioning was supposed to be automated. This required a lot of diverse groups within Sprint to coordinate and interoperate using CORBA and other messaging / middle ware. Getting such a system operational and stable proved to be a very difficult and costly affair. The number of steps between an operator entering an ION customer order, to a network technician installing the device, to servers providing the RISH firmware and configuration data was high. There were a lot of points of failure, and getting this massive set of software systems to work was a major source of time and money drain.

    "Timing is everything..."

    In short, ION was a bit ahead of its time, and due to various delays, it didn't become available it its truly usefull form until it was already too late. The economic slowdown and broadband crunch started towards the end of 2000, and ION really didnt reach a viable point for widespread deployment until mid 2001. The timing was bad, and the ambitious and challenging nature of ION proved to be too costly in both time and money.

    I am really sad to see it go. I put a lot of time and effory to write code that was supposed to be part of a new kind of communication infrastructure. I worked with a lot of really smart people there who also put a lot of effort into it, and most of them (actually, almost all of them) have been laid off as of last week.

    ION itself had a lot of promise. High speed internet access and phone service was just the beginning of what it could provide.

    • > I worked on the Sprint ION project for over a year
      > as a software engineer, and I got to know the
      > system pretty well.

      Me too.

      > Sprint decided to implement all of these services
      > over an ATM network. ATM AAL2 rt-vbr (realtime
      > variable bit rate)

      And this is where the train departed the track. The
      announcement the other day was just the kinetic
      energy of the derailment catching up from the rear of
      the train. Had they gone with VoIP instead of
      whinging on endlessly about bandwidth in the core,
      the project could have completed long ago. Instead
      they bought into AAL2 snake oil and got exactly what
      was predictable two years ago.

      > and only ION had the capability to provide such high
      > quality of service features directly into the home
      > (you need ATM for this level of QoS)

      BS. This is ATM bigotry. An IP network with diffserv
      and/or intserv could easily achieve this, and is
      shipping today. Also: you can run AAL5 over CBR or
      VBR SVC just as easily as AAL2, and you can use
      Q.2931 to signal for vc setup just like any other
      over-complicated L2.
  • by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:19PM (#2450256) Homepage
    Am I spoiled, or does net access in the States suck just that much?

    $40CDN gets me 6Mbit down, 1MBit up cable access.

    $30CDN gets me my phone service.

    I pay as I go for long distance. I don't use it a whole lot.

    So, that's a grand total of $70CDN a month. Factor in that it's Canadian money, and that's a mere $45US.

    You're the people pioneering this technology. Don't take it sitting down. It's pretty pathetic that your telcos are bullying you into those prices.
    • Tack on $20 CDN for near-unlimited long distance evening + weekened calling in Canada ... ;-)

      If you use a lot of in-Canada long-distance after-hours, $90 a month gets you even better services.

      Yes, Bell Canada is still a 'big player' in the world telecom industry. We have it good my friend ... even if they don't have customer service.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday October 19, 2001 @12:08AM (#2450369)
    I had (have!) this service. The only problem I had is that whole area codes could not be reached directly from my phone (I live in Denver and could not call anywhere in Colorado Springs, for example).

    The other phone issue was that for as long as I've had it, Caller ID has worked about three times out of hundreds of calls.

    I never did bother to get either issue resolved (who uses phones anymore?), but I'll miss the service - I found the speed a lot better than other solutions (I used to have Qwest DSL).

    Slashdot was the first I'd heard of this - Oh well, back to the Broadband drawing board!

  • Sprint ION TOS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Halvard ( 102061 ) on Friday October 19, 2001 @08:37AM (#2450922)

    Anyone ever read the TOS?

    They owned the data passing through the network. Yes, your info, or your company info. Viewing porn was a TOS violation as was hosting a website, mail server etc.

    Pretty ugly TOS and one that I would never sign off on.

  • I don't know about you but I've been hearing the same thing for over 25 years on everything from new residential services to ISDN to ADSL and everything in between.

    Here's a generic news blurb. Cut and paste it into your next announcement about the death of a phone company's attempt to do something:

    "(company name) announced today they were discontinuing their (service name) service. After much hoopla (company name) discovered several severe technical and financial problems associated with the rollout. (Company name) over estimated customer demand and did not anticipate customer backlash from poor service quality, unreliability, longer than anticipated provisioning times, poor customer service and recurring billing problems. (CEO's name), (company name's) CEO announced that no new customers would be accepted, existing customers would be discontinued immediately and those customers should receive partial billing credits in the next 3 months. In a related note (company name) announced 1,500 layoffs associated with the closing of their (service name) service subsidiary. Financial markets responded by hiking the stock price 3%. (Company name) also announced they have filed for a rate increase with the FCC.
  • So when my ISP goes down, how do you call someone to get it fixed? Joking somewhat, but there are advantages to having different services over different lines.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes