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Pitching DSL services to a mass audience

In an effort to raise DSL awareness, the digital subscriber line industry is preparing an education campaign with a theme similar to the popular "Got Milk?" ads.

Got DSL?

In an effort to raise awareness of the nascent high-speed Internet technology, the digital subscriber line industry is preparing a DSL education campaign with a theme similar to the popular "Got Milk?" ads.

With only 50,000 customers by most industry accounts, DSL growth is lagging behind recent gains by high-speed cable modem services, which claim more than 500,000 users.

Now the ADSL Forum, a non-profit consortium of more than 300 companies in the industry, is planning a consumer education and awareness program slated for a spring launch. Details of the program are expected to be unveiled at the forum's upcoming conference in Washington.

The DSL education campaign, to be called "Hook Up America," aims to set up the high-speed service with several businesses and consumers in hopes that the DSL gospel will spread by word-of-mouth.

The organization also will launch a new website in March at dsllife.com to answer many consumers' frequently asked questions. Though details remain scant, sources said the campaign is intended to show consumers how a high-speed, "always on" Net connection--namely the G.lite version of asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL)--can change consumers' lifestyle.

The campaign is likely to show how families can easily turn to the Internet for a recipe while cooking dinner, or for driving directions before dashing out the door. Some in the industry are anxious to market the service to the masses, without using acronyms and arcane technical details.

But a higher profile could only serve to whip consumer interest into a frenzy about a service that many still cannot access. As capital-intensive network upgrades drag on, both DSL and cable modems have come slower to market than some would have hoped.

The G.lite standard, a slower-speed, consumer-rate version of ADSL, is expected to be ratified by the International Telecommunication Union in June and will be available later this summer.

The G.lite standard, not unlike the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) cable modem standard, aims to take DSL modems into the retail marketplace by ensuring they are interoperable with any carrier's central office equipment.