Broadband Options Grow, and Intel steps into the fray

Intel launches a business unit to produce broadband hardware, and signs a series of deals with Cisco to produce Cisco-compatible ADSL modems.

Looking to cash in on an anticipated spike in demand for Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and other broadband Internet access technologies, Intel has launched a business unit to produce broadband access hardware, and the company is forming a partnership with Cisco to further its DSL efforts.

As its first steps, Intel's recently formed Broadband Access Operation (BAO) group has inked a series of licensing, development, and marketing deals with Cisco, by which Intel will produce PC-based Asymmetrical DSL (ADSL) modems that are compatible with Cisco's Central Office DSL equipment, according to Intel officials in Hillsboro, Ore.

Because DSL and ADSL use existing copper voice lines, demand for those services is expected to pick up before access methods that require additional network infrastructure for deployment.

Although positioned largely as consumer and small-business equipment, the Intel group's DSL modems also will find uses among remote offices and telecommuters requiring enterprise data access, said Dan Wagner, product line manager for Intel's BAO.

DSL, especially in conjunction with the security and virtual private network (VPN) technology Intel plans to add, promises to make remote office and home office connections to enterprise data centers more viable, said analyst Rick Doherty, director of research at Envisioneering, a market research firm in Seaford, N.Y.

"One of the things holding up telecommuting has been the quality of service [of standard modems]. Even with cable modems, there's no guarantee of quality of service," Doherty said. "With DSL you can participate in video conferences and have full bandwidth for presentations, and enterprises also will tend to pay for it. With VPNs, it's basically as secure as a good, dedicated T1 line."

The first Intel BAO products are slated for release later this summer. Intel will follow the ADSL modem releases with security features and expand the line to include stand-alone gateway devices, according to Wagner.

Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at www.intel.com. Cisco Systems Inc., in San Jose, Calif., can be reached at www.cisco.com.

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