DSL modem market inches closer

Telecom is inching toward creating a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem market for use with its JetStream Internet access service.

Telecom is inching toward creating a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem market for use with its JetStream Internet access service.

A year after the service became commercially available, subscribers continue to be limited to hiring or buying a Nokia or Efficient Networks modem from the telco.

Within six months, however, modems from a range of other manufacturers should be telepermitted and available through the channel.

“We’re working on an indirect distribution channel,” says Telecom Wellington-based partnering manager Patrick Carson, “but nothing is decided at this stage.”

According to IP services product manager Dino Ciminiello, it’s “taken a bit longer than intended” to open the market up because DSL standards have been uncertain.

Telecom deployed its Nokia-based service before the International Telecommunication Union had finalised any DSL standards.

But Ciminiello says all new JetStream subscribers are being connected to an upgraded network that conforms to the ITU’s full-rate DSL standard.

Telecom is inviting makers of DSL modems compliant with ITU draft recommendation G992.1 to submit them for telepermit testing.

Alcatel, which claims to be the DSL market leader, says two of its models, the Speedtouch Pro and Speedtouch USB, are being tested. The company says it’s keen to be able to sell its modems, but the DSL service is a “carrier-driven” solution.

Modems from Cisco and 3Com are also understood to be undergoing testing.

Ciminiello says testing is comparatively complicated since the devices need to not only be checked for electrical and radio frequency compliance, but also for any network interference.

“The issue we have is making sure the customer is buying something that is going to work on the network.”

He anticipates “quite a big market” when it is opened up.

Telecom claims to have 5000 JetStream subscribers, double the number at the start of the year, and expects to have double that again by the end of the year.

Ciminiello says demand for broadband Internet access is being boosted by the appearance of rival radio-based offerings and Ihug’s satellite-based service.

He says Telecom is planning pricing and service options designed to persuade dial-up Internet users to switch to JetStream. They will include “more targetted home services”.

Equipment makers, including Alcatel, are working on devices for delivery of multiple voice channels over a single DSL connection and delivery of television-quality video over DSL.

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