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USR stakes out DSL territory

USR says it will help spread a new technology to provide faster Net access over regular phone lines.

U.S. Robotics (USRX) continues to move into new markets, announcing today that it will provide products for digital subscriber line (DSL) access that promise faster Internet-intranet access than standard dial-up modems.

DSL is a technology that provides fast remote access over standard copper telephone lines. It is the main competitor to cable modems and provides the fast access needed for applications such as videoconferencing and other "collaborative" computing applications.

U.S. Robotics (USR), which debuted the products at the CeBIT Exposition in Germany, said that the products encompass the needs of both telephone service providers, small business offices, and home users.

In conjunction with the product introduction, USR announced that CS Telecom, a large telecommunications firm in France, will use their products in be conducting trials in 1997.

USR's entrance into the DSL market comes on the heels of its first foray into another emerging market. Earlier this week, the company said they intend to provide cable companies with all the equipment and software needed to provide consumers with Internet access over cable television networks. The announcements give USR a toehold in two still unsettled markets that could become the successors to today's analog modems.

USR says it will use RADSL chipsets from Globespan for use in its modems. RADSL stands for rate adaptive digital subscriber line, meaning that the rate of data transmission can be adjusted to take into account the signal quality of the telephone line. According to Globespan, these RADSL products will automatically select the highest practical operating speed but also allow the telecom service provider.

Users will be able to download data at rates of up to 6 mbps and send data at rates of up to 640 kbps with a software upgrade in the second quarter of 1997. By comparison, cable modems can download and send data at 10 mbps under ideal conditions. This will allow people to have telephone conversations and transfer data simultaneously over a single phone line, the company said.

For telcos and corporations wanting to set up dial-up Internet and corporate intranet access, USR will offer the AxCell cardset for use in their Total Control chassis. Up to 32 ports can be supported per chassis, and management of the network is done on a PC or Unix workstation using USR's Access Router Manager software. The cardset has a suggested list price of $775

For end users at remote offices or telecommuters, USR will offer the Viper-DSL. The Viper-DSL is a RADSL-to-Ethernet router that supports multiple users on an Ethernet LAN (local area network), according to the company. The multiuser modem has a suggested list price of $495.

Both products are expected to be available in early May, the company said.