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DSL technologies soon to market

3Com, Fujitsu, and Paradyne are working on new products that will offer high-speed Internet access via DSL technologies.

Equipment and chip vendors such as 3Com, Fujitsu, and Paradyne announced they are working on new products that will offer Internet access via DSL (digital subscriber line) technologies.

The companies hope to capitalize on the attention surrounding the creation of a new industry consortium for promoting DSL technologies in mass market deployments. (See related story)

3Com and others are working the "Universal" or DSL lite technology. Able to deliver data to a home user over the existing phone infrastructure at a rate of up to 1.5 mbps, How real is DSL? the technology is around 30 times faster than 56-kbps modems. Also, costly specialized equipment called a splitter isn't needed at a subscriber's location, which is the case with current DSL modems.

3Com, one of the largest modem makers, says it will add DSL lite to its product line beginning in 1998. 3Com has been shipping other DSL technologies, often referred to as full-rate DSL because of the higher speeds offered, since June of 1997, the company says.

At the Comnet conference in Washington, Fujitsu demonstrated its Speedport DSL equipment for central phone office networks. Much like today's 56-kbps modems need to work with equipment based on the same technology, phone companies need to install new equipment that can understand signals sent by DSL modems. Fujitsu says its Speedport remote access product, based on technology from Orkit (ORCTF), will let phone companies install up to 72 subscriber lines. No pricing or availability was announced.

Paradyne also displayed equipment for central phone office networks, claiming that the Hotwire MVL system will allow telcos to install all the various "flavors" of DSL lines, including DSL lite, at a cost of around $300 per customer. Currently, Paradyne estimates that each new DSL subscriber will cost a phone company $500 per line. Lower deployment costs would encourage telcos to roll service out more quickly

Massachusetts-based Aware (AWRE) claims it will have a PC modem and modems with "Universal" DSL technology for installation at the central site by the end of the first quarter. Like other DSL technologies, the modems retrieve information faster than they can send it?not a real performance problem for Internet surfing. A user of Aware's modem can receive information at 1.5 mbps and send data back out to the Internet at up to 512 kbps, the company says. No pricing or availability was announced.

Tomorrow, Texas Instruments (TXN) is expected to announce a new chipset targeted for use in networking equipment that's needed to implement DSL service. Through the use of high-powered DSPs (digital signal processors), Texas Instruments equipment vendors will be able to incorporate more modems into a single piece of hardware, and the modems will also be software upgradeable to new DSL standards, including DSL lite.