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BBN: service or your money back

BBN offers a revolutionary guarantee: If a customer's Internet connection is down more than 15 minutes because of the company's backbone, that day's service is free.

Internet service provider BBN (BBN) today offered what may be the Internet's best service guarantee: If a customer's Internet connection is down more than 15 minutes in a day because of the service's backbone, that day's usage is free.

BBN Planet, the division that handles Internet connections, also disclosed that it is preparing to launch its first dial-up service for business customers, perhaps by year's end.

The guarantee is part of the rollout of BBN's newly upgraded Internet backbone, which was a significant portion of BBN's $30 million capital budget this fiscal year. It goes into effect October 1 for new and existing BBN customers who renew their contracts.

Construction of the new network began in February, and much of it is now operational. With the new backbone, BBN said it can double capacity over the next year.

"A whole class of applications is not being moved to the Net because [customers] don't think it's reliable enough," John Curran, BBN's chief technical officer, told CNET today. "Our network is engineered for reliability, but it's sort of a chicken-and-the-egg scenario. The only way [to convince customers] is to offer a guarantee."

BBN's backbone, which offers access through more than 300 locations, including 66 BBN points of presence and 250 frame relay connections, is designed for 99.9 percent reliability, the company said.

BBN has more than 2,300 business customers. The BBN Planet unit had revenues of $73 million for the year ending June 30, while its parent company posted $234 million in revenue for the same period.