Like other high-speed Net companies of any variety, SBC now forces its customers to wait several weeks or more before installing their fast Net service. Most of the services are barely able to keep up with demand for the connections, and scheduling time for a technician to visit a home has proven difficult for people who can't take a half-day off from work.
The new kit aims to ease those problems, allowing potential digital subscriber line (DSL) customers to plug in and turn on the service themselves, without waiting for outside aid.
"It's going to significantly increase our capacity," said Michael Coe, an SBC spokesman. "That's how it's really going to help us."
SBC isn't the first of the high-speed Net companies to move in this direction. Bell Atlantic has had a similar offer for several months, and cable modem company Excite@Home has also offered do-it-yourself kits in some retail outlets.
In the phone company's case, customers will still order the service directly on the Web or over the telephone. SBC estimates it will take seven to 10 days to turn on the connection to the phone line, and a kit will be shipped to the customers' house shortly afterward.
Included will be a modem and all the cables and networking cards needed to plug a computer into a DSL connection, along with step-by-step manuals detailing the process. Coe said the company has tested the instructions in "human factors" labs in order to make them simple enough that people who can't set their VCRs can use these kits.
By the end of the year, the company expects between 30 percent and 50 percent of new subscribers to use the kits, Coe added.