With telephone companies accelerating their
digital-subscriber-line service marketing efforts, Lucent Technologies Inc. is pushing a
modem solution it says will speed deployments even further.
Lucent's Microelectronics Group announced last week that
five computer and modem manufacturers will be using its asymmetrical-DSL modem chip
solution enhanced with the company's "WildCard" software.
The software enables connectivity between consumer-oriented
ADSL "lite" equipment at anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent of the full-rate
ADSL gear that still predominates in telco central offices, according to Tony Grewe,
Lucent Microelectronics' director of strategy and business development. That compares with
less than 60 percent connectivity for competing solutions, he said.
The company has also established interoperability with DSL
access multiplexer central office equipment from 11 different vendors, which combined with
its connectivity flexibility enables telcos to deploy ADSL-lite service more quickly to
more customers, Grewe said.
Lucent's software has also been enhanced to handle some of
the manual functions subscribers must typically perform when configuring their modems and
computers for DSL service. The aim is to support self-installs that will help telcos
provision service more rapidly.
The big telcos have been backing the "G.Lite"
standard approved in June by the International Telecommunications Union as the platform
for creating a mass retail, easily-deployed high speed data product using existing copper
Unlike full-rate ADSL, which supports data speeds up to 8
megabits per second, G.Lite does not require installation of a voice/data splitter at a
subscriber's home or business, which makes self-installation more feasible-and provides
downstream data speeds up to 1.5 mbps.
Dataquest Inc. last week estimated that worldwide DSL
equipment shipments could grow to 1.03 million units this year from 350,000 in 1998, and
to 9.8 million in 2003. Cable modem unit shipments will be 1.76 million next year and 5.3
million in 2003, Dataquest said.
The consumer market expected to take over from small
office/home office as the driver of DSL growth, and Lucent wants to capitalize on the
trend with its G.Lite-oriented solutions, Grewe said. To that end, the company said Dell
Computer Corp. this fall will begin offering the Lucent-enhanced DSL modems as an option
on its Dimension desktop PCs aimed at home and small business users.
Lucent also announced that modems using its solution will
be available beginning in the fourth quarter from retail manufacturers Actiontec
Electronics, Creative Technology Ltd., Multi-Tech Systems and Zoom Telephonics.
The Lucent campaign comes amid a flurry of other activity
by telcos. They are pushing to boost DSL deployments ahead of the back-to-school and
year-end holiday retail buying seasons.
Bell Atlantic Corp. announced last week it planned to
double the deployment of its Infospeed DSL product this year, to 17 million qualified
lines by year's end.
"We're intensifying our commitment to making Infospeed
DSL a mass-market service and responding to the thousands of customers who've told us they
want DSL as fast as we can get it to them," said Amy McIntosh, president of Bell
Atlantic Consumer Data Services, in a news release.
GTE Corp. announced a new discounted DSL pricing structure,
its so-called Bronze Plus package, offering Internet access through its own ISP at data
speeds up to 768 kilobits per second for $49.95, or about 20 percent lower than its
existing lowest priced DSL service.
The telco also said it agreed to support access at speeds
up to 768 kbps to consumer-friendly America Online Inc. wherever GTE offers DSL service.
The GTE and BellSouth announcements followed by a week
Ameritech's disclosure of its long-delayed DSL plans, which anticipate coverage of 3
million lines by year-end.