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SBC promises to get 'naked'

SBC prepares to 'take it all off' as it monkeys with the idea of allowing customers to subscribe to DSL without subscribing to its phone service.

SBC Communications is going to start testing 'naked' DSL, according to Dave Burstein in his latest DSL Prime newsletter. CFO Rich Lindner supposedly told analysts at a conference that he "expects [SBC] will do trials of naked DSL, especially bundled with wireless."

SBC hasn't yet confirmed these comments. And the company isn't saying yet when testing is likley to begin or when the service might eventually be available.

'Naked' DSL has become a hot topic, especially in light of the recenty proposed mega mergers between SBC and AT&T and Verizon and MCI. Consumer advocates have long complained about the phone companies requiring customers to keep their phone lines if they subscribe to DSL.

In order for people to really reap the benefit from third party VoIP services, they need to be able to get broadband without paying for a telephone line. Duh. It only makes sense that people don't want to pay for two phone lines.

Qwest was the first Baby Bell to see the logic in this argument, and it has already been offering Naked DSL.

The remaining Baby Bells -- SBC, Verizon, and Bellsouth-- have been reluctant to give up the power of their broadband bundle. But the sentiment has been slowly changing. Verizon has taken small steps toward getting "naked". It announced last month that in certain regions of the country existing voice customers could drop their landline, so long as they ported their phone numbers to some other voice services, like cell phones or VoIP services. But they aren't allowing new DSL customers to do this.

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