US Robotics unveils pioneering hybrid modem range

While speculation continues to surround digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies as the possible solution to the domestic bandwidth squeeze, USR Robotics (USR) has made it all seem a little more real with the announcement of a range of pioneering hybrid modems that support analog and DSL connections.

USR Robotics (USR) has announced the availability of its pioneering hybrid modems that support analog and digital subscriber line (DSL) connections.

The modems, discussed earlier by USR, will be available later this month and priced starting at less than US$250.

Among the first available products is Viper, an analog/DSL modem for the customer end with an integrated router for connecting to a LAN, priced at $495. Also available is a $775, two-port DSL card called Axcell that fits in the USR Total Control Enterprise Network Hub platform to terminate DSL connections at the service provider end.

Cobra, a PC card due in July costs $200.

Gear that will support DSL service for 30 lines costs about $30,000 and appears to be priced to encourage competitive local exchange carriers and Internet service providers to jump into the DSL market.

When they buy in bulk, carriers and ISPs could provision each customer line for less than $500. That is the price ISPs say they need to hit to make it feasible to offer DSL services.

The new modems will be software upgradable, so users can buy them configured as USR's 56Kbit/s modems, known as x2, and add DSL features as they choose. DSL capabilities will come in several flavors, known collectively as DSL-light, that range in speed from 128K bps to 384K bps.

Later, a rate adaptive DSL will be available at speeds as high as 7M bps.

The initial USR hybrid modem offerings will be based on frame relay, but later upgrades will be based on ATM, the company said. USR said it expects to soon add the ability for a single modem to support multiple channels over one phone line.

The modems are the first of their kind and are supported by a new, super-fast digital signal processing (DSP) chip from Texas Instruments Inc. (TI), industry sources said.

USR will announce today an alliance with TI to promote DSL standards. There are currently two competing DSL coding schemes, and work is underway to consolidate them.

The USR-TI alliance will also push use of the new TI DSP chips, with the goal of reducing price via high sales volume.

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