- New products designed to advance the deployment of DSL (digital subscriber line) services are being promoted at ComNet by a number of companies, who seem to remain confident about the technology despite recent layoffs and financial difficulties at large DSL service providers.
The companies making announcements are looking a few years down the road when the number of DSL subscribers is expected to reach into the tens of millions. A study released in November by Cahners In-Stat Group forecasts the number of new DSL subscribers worldwide will reach more than 23 million by 2004. The study also says asymmetric DSL will be the flavour of choice with more than 70% of the market.
But a lot of the recent DSL news has been bad, including January's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by DSL wholesaler NorthPoint Communications Group. Another casualty was Rhythms NetConnections of Englewood, Colorado, which announced plans to focus on fewer markets and lay off about 23% of its workforce. Covad Communications also recently announced layoffs.
Nevertheless, at ComNet, DSL providers see a rosy outlook for the technology, which offers several strong points, such as relatively low access costs compared with T-1 lines.
Catena Networks introduced the CNX-5 asymmetric DSL (ADSL) system for upgrading Lucent Technologies' SLC-5 digital loop carrier systems. The CNX-5 enables service providers to deliver traditional voice and ADSL services on any copper pair without reducing the number of available voice lines.
The Catena CNX-5 system consists of an integrated port channel unit with two voice and two DSL interfaces, an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) multiplexer card, and the CatenaView Element Management System. This card-for-card upgrade eliminates the need for voice line splitters, cross-connects, external cabling and mini-RAMs, Catena said in a news release.
The system interoperates with all of the leading providers of DSL customer premises equipment, and Catena is demonstrating at its ComNet booth the system's interoperability with a number of modem and other equipment providers including French Telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel, Cayman Systems, Efficient Networks and Infinilink.
The CNX-5 is shipping now, priced at less than US$3,000. Catena says there are more than 20 million residential subscribers served by SLC-5s.
Adtran Inc. is another vendor touting new products with DSL functionality at the show. The Huntsville, Alabama-based company introduced three new integrated access devices (IADs) that figure in the company's product line for competitive local exchange carriers, incumbent local exchange carriers and Internet service providers, says Chris Thompson, product manager for Adtran's enterprise networks division.
The new IADs support both TDM (time division multiplex) and ATM networks and include network interface ports for T1, ADSL, SDSL (symmetric DSL) or the International Telecommunication Union's new G.shdsl standard, which is designed to offer improved DSL speed, reach and performance with reduced line interference. All the new Adtran boxes are designed for allowing carrier customers to provide voice over DSL or Voice over ATM services, Thompson say.
Carriers will be able to offer their small and medium-size business customers more bandwidth for data, providing a cheaper alternative for their high-speed connectivity, he says. Because the IADs support both TDM and ATM, they are appropriate for customers who want to migrate to ATM, Thompson says.
The products are the Total Access 604, which has four fixed analog voice interfaces; the Total Access 608, which has eight fixed analog voice interfaces; and the Total Access 544, which has four ISDN interfaces accompanied by a V.35 port for synchronous data applications as well as an IP router.
Tripath Technology, meanwhile, says it would enter the ADSL chip set market with a new family of central office ADSL line drivers as part of a collaborative agreement with Alcatel.
The new chip sets will offer full reach and data rate capability and reduce heat dissipation by more than 50% compared with conventional line drivers, the Santa Clara, California-based company said in a news release. The products, due out by June, will enable system designers to pack more lines into DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) equipment racks and remote DLC cabinets, the company says.
Alcatel says it would combine Tripath's line drivers with its DynaMite family of low-power, multichannel ADSL CO chipsets to enable customers to develop central office ADSL equipment with increased density and reduced power consumption.