Viatel has unveiled a new uncontended (1:1) broadband connection, targeted at the SME market, at a fraction of the cost of a leased line.

Called Maxstream Broadband, the uncontended ADSL service offers three times the upstream bandwidth (832kbit/s) of traditional ADSL. The service can be brought at 512kbit/s up and download (giving a symmetrical service), or it can be purchased at 1Mbit/s and 2Mbit/s download (both with up to 832kbit/s upload).

In addition MaxStream is offered as a bonded service whereby between two and four ADSL lines are bonded together.

A dedicated 1:1 ADSL service is particularly suited to businesses located near busy telephone exchanges, as uncontended services guarantee users are not sharing their broadband connection with anyone else.

“One of the problems that companies have traditionally faced with ADSL lines is that their upstream bandwidths are ‘capped’ at a maximum of 256kbit/s,” said Steve Powell, connectivity manager at Viatel. “Business communications frequently require as much upload bandwidth as download, but very often they don't have access to technologies such as SDSL, or can’t afford leased lines. Because MaxStream is an ADSL technology, it is affordable and even the symmetrical option is available to 99.97 percent of the UK.”

Viatel provides its MaxStream service over BT Datastream, an option offered by BT Wholesale which allows the ISP to set their own contention ratios. According to Powell, Viatel is able to put one user at a “virtual exchange,” so that uncontended virtual path is 1:1, the same as a leased line and this is generating “lots of interest.”

Powell says that they guarantee to customers a virtual, dedicated path, which translates into guaranteed bandwidth. For businesses, an obvious example of where this would be beneficial is that it increases the effective reach of voice services over IP. There would be no annoying dropped packets, like many home users experience when making a VoIP call using say Skype.

“If you were to ask a small regional office, with a 20:1 contended BT ASDL line the following question. Can you (the service provider) absolutely guarantee I can always make a phone call (using VoIP), the answer would be no,” said Powell.

“This means that VoIP is a limited option for lot of businesses, who cannot afford a leased line,” said Powell. He believes his offering allows SMEs to make ten simultaneous VoIP calls on one line.

“Many SMEs may have been reluctant to move to a fully converged network due to concerns over quality of service and reliability,” said Powell. “With MaxStream, small businesses have a cost-effective solution to run both voice and data over a single line, and can put QoS measures in place to prioritise VoIP and other business critical application traffic.”

According to Powell, a 1:1 512kbit/s symmetrical circuit costs somewhere in the region of £100 per customer (per month), which is an “awful lot cheaper than a leased line.”