The prototype ADSL modem connects to a computer's Universal Serial Bus (USB), rather than a network interface card, which most ADSL modems require. Most computers come equipped with a USB.
ADSL technology has been slow to catch on in the consumer market, not only because of high costs but also because it is complicated to install. The computer must have a network interface card installed and connect to a telephone company that has ADSL equipment at its end.
With the addition of the easy-to-connect USB modem, however, the technology comes one step closer to being viable as a consumer product.
"ADSL technology is not new, and USB is not new. The two together is very new," said Holland Wood, product marketing manager for Intel Architecture Labs.
ADSL offers much faster transmission speeds than traditional modems, with downstream speeds reaching as high as 8 mbps and upstream transmission of 1 mbps. ADSL also offers simultaneous voice, data, and video transmission. Typical analog modems offer transmission at a maximum rate of 56 kbps.
According to Michael Newsom, a spokesman for Alcatel, the USB modem offers the same speeds as typical ADSL technology. "It's real full-blown ADSL," Newsom said.
Representatives from both companies noted that the codeveloped prototype does not mean that Intel has made a commitment to further develop or distribute the modem. "Intel has a general broadband interest, for making broadband easier to use for PC users," said Wood.
The modem will be demonstrated publicly for the first time at the Intel booth at the Comdex industry trade show in Las Vegas.