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GTE starts new ADSL trials

New trials of high-speed ADSL Internet access technology will involve more than 1,000 Microsoft employees.

High-speed ADSL technology is alive and kicking, according to GTE (GTE).

The company announced today that it will expand its Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line Net access trials to involve more than 1,000 Microsoft employees over the next several months. Two other studies are under way with 70 students and faculty at Duke and Purdue universities.

The initiative is part of GTE's strategy to fashion itself into a one-stop shopping center for all aspects of telecommunications, from phone service to Internet access. Those ambitious plans were underscored by the $616 million acquisition of Net service provider BBN earlier today.

ADSL uses standard phone lines to deliver information at speeds up to 6 mbps; ISDN lines allow 64 kbps. For example, GTE said a 4-mbps modem can download a 60-second video clip in near-real time, a task that takes a 28.8-kbps modem 45 minutes. The technology also allows simultaneous voice and data transmission.

ADSL modems cost about $600 each, and up to $100 a month to rent. Also, telecommunications companies will have to adopt the new technology as a standard for widespread use.

The GTE studies will examine ADSL's effect on networks. The trials have received very positive feedback to date from Microsoft and from the local businesses involved in the trials, said company spokesman Bill Kula.

"Today, we don't want to wait in a fast-food line, much less wait to download a video clip," Kula said, "ADSL is alive and well despite skeptics who have asked whether telecommunication companies are committed."

Although GTE hasn't set a date for commercial release, Kula expects GTE will charge consumers $60-100 dollars per month for ADSL access.

GTE's news today follows a release by competitor Ameritech last month, announcing the success of their ADSL trials and plans to widely launch service this year.