Com21 Proposes Cable-Modem Shootout


Chicago -- Reasoning that cable-modem interoperability is
well enough on its way, Com21 Inc. is soliciting its competitors to participate in
comparative performance tests of high-speed-data gear.

The tests will be performed at next month's Western
Cable Show by The Tolly Group, an independent, third-party test lab.

Buck Gee, vice president of marketing for Com21, said last
week that a letter was sent Nov. 9 to eight manufacturers of cable modems: Cisco Systems
Inc., General Instrument Corp., Nortel/Bay Networks Inc., Samsung Telecommunications
America Inc., Sony Corp., Thomson Consumer Electronics, 3Com Corp. and Toshiba America
Consumer Products.

Gee described Com21's plan as a way for cable
operators to get clear answers about the actual performance, in terms of speed, of DOCSIS
(Data Over Cable Service/Interoperability Specification) modems.

"Cable modems aren't all the same," Gee
said, noting that internal Com21 tests of various DOCSIS-based modems have uncovered as
much as a 10-to-1 difference in speed. "That's really our point."

Gee said the tests will attempt to identify
packet-filtering and forwarding-throughput performance, with variations on traffic

At press time, Com21 executives said they had only received
one confirmation, from Toshiba.

Carl Bruhn, vice president and general manager of
Thomson's broadband group, said he doubted that Thomson would participate.

"It's just not of interest to us at this
point," Bruhn said, adding that Thomson is already involved in MSO field tests, @Home
Network tests and the DOCSIS process.

Gee said the tests will be conducted in a suite the day
before the Western Show, with Com21 being the first vendor to participate. The results
will be announced at Com21's press briefing during the show. Following the show,
tests will continue through December and January.