ITU Approves Consumer DSL Standard


Last week's approval of the international standard for
consumer-oriented "G.Lite" digital-subscriber-line equipment and service could
mean widespread deployments by some carriers this fall.

As expected, the International Telecommunications Union
gave final approval last week to the G.Lite standard, which major telephone companies and
computer-industry players have backed as the means for creating an easily deployed
high-speed-data product using existing phone lines and targeted for mass retail sale.

That approval came on the heels of the Supercomm '99
convention earlier this month, where more than 30 major equipment vendors demonstrated
interoperability of their G.Lite products such as modem chip sets, DSL-access multiplexers
(DSLAMs) and other customer-premises and central-office gear.

"That has been the key to not only service-provider
deployments, but also to the 'productization' of G.Lite," said Mark Peden,
director of technology for competitive DSL carrier NorthPoint Communications Inc. and vice
chairman of strategic communications for the ADSL (asymmetrical DSL) Forum industry group.

"Service providers today nationally are already
rolling out DSL services," Peden said. "What the availability of G.Lite will do
for them is allow them to support the retail model, as well as being able to significantly
accelerate their current offerings."

Just as the cable industry's modem-standards process
is intended to create an easily installed, retail-ready product, G.Lite is intended to
give telcos a retail-oriented DSL solution.

G.Lite makes installs easier, removing the need for a
signal splitter at the customer premises, and it will eventually remove the need for a
truck roll to provision subscribers.

Personal-computer manufacturers are expected to be the
first to widely offer G.Lite-based modems, embedded in machines at the user's option.
Next would come computer and consumer-electronics chains.

The G.Lite specifications are for downstream service at 1.5
megabits per second and upstream transmission at 512 kilobits per second, compared with 8
mbps upstream and 1 mbps downstream for "full" DSL.

BellSouth Corp. -- which has been working with 3Com Corp.
to make G.Lite modems widely available during the third quarter -- already offers a
proprietary ADSL setup with service rates that mirror those of G.Lite.

Spokesman John Goldman said the telco plans to update its
switches to offer G.Lite in all 30 markets where it intends to offer ADSL by year's

GTE Corp. -- which completed a friendly G.Lite trial with
47 households in Hillsborough, Ore., earlier this year -- is still talking with vendors
about specific requirements for deployment, product manager Bev White said.

"We're tremendously excited about this, but the
reality is that we want to make sure we plan very carefully, so that when we do roll it
out, it's in a fashion that our customers are pleased with and it's a good
experience for them," she added.