The key issues facing xDSL (digital subscriber line) technology are price and product migration, believes John Norton, general manager of telecommunication systems for NEC. NEC is working with Telecom on the ADSL trials in Wellington.
The important thing about ADSL — one version of the copper wire-based technology — says Norton, in New Zealand for the launch of the company’s Cupro product, is that if someone wants to migrate to other services, the technology has to allow it. The slower but cheaper HIS (home Internet service) technology could be useful for putting an infrastructure in place, but won’t migrate to future services. Says Norton: “xDSL provides future-proofing.”
Norton says ADSL is “just a high speed modem”, and Cupro is a modem technology able to implement end-to-end solutions into telco networks. “The smart aspect is what you do with the end-to-end application. As you know the technology is capable of doing any number of things, from Internet and intranets, to straightforward data transfer. It also depends a lot on the market. Cupro, for example, has video capability, but we don’t see that as a major selling point in New Zealand. In South America ADSL has been adopted by a lot of the pay TV companies because of the video capability.”
The company is also involved in an ADSL trial in Australia with Telstra. Whilst feeling unable to give too many details about the project, Norton says the trial involves 100 lines, and will roll out at the beginning of February.
Norton says the xDSL market is becoming very aggressive, with more and more telcos beginning to realise the value and the potential of the copper installations that until recently were being replaced with fibre. At the Atlanta Interop xDSL forum in October there were 31 companies exhibiting.
Despite this, says Norton, “There is still a massive amount of fibre planned, which leads to the question of what business applications will use fibre. The logical thing would be to put the cable in as part of the migration policy and connect it to kerb-based nodes.”
As far as Norton is concerned, though, the road to true xDSL is still littered with issues of bundling, standardisation and interconnection arrangements. “Since it is unlikely that there is going to be much, if any new copper put in interconnection arrangements will become essential. But they will have to be managed agreements so that services remain intact. It’s an issue that is still not solved, but it is important that it is because service has to be maintained.”