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Computer, phone companies seek to speed Internet

graphic January 26, 1998
Web posted at: 9:46 p.m. EST (0246 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top computer firms Compaq, Intel and Microsoft and leading telephone and networking companies Monday announced an alliance to promote high-speed Internet links over ordinary phone lines.

Telephone companies banded together and sought support from the high-tech giants to ward off a competing scheme for faster Internet connections relying on cable television wires.

The phone group said it will offer the International Telecommunications Union, which sets industry standards, a uniform method of connecting to the Internet using "asymmetric digital subscriber line" technology, or ADSL. Equipment makers plan to offer products based on the standard.

That avoids a costly battle among the companies and ensures that consumers will be able to connect using equipment from different companies. An earlier phone company offering to speed Internet connections, called "integrated services digital network" or ISDN, was plagued by incompatible equipment and installation difficulties.

Using ADSL, a consumer could receive information up to 25 times faster than from the fastest ordinary modems currently on the market, the group said. The speed of transmission would be only two or three times faster than a modem going from the consumer's computer back to the Internet.

"While it will take time to make ADSL generally available across the United States, adopting standards now will ensure that telecommunications companies, modem and personal computer manufacturers and programmers are working together to provide consumers with the wider bandwidth they need," said Will Prout, an official from Sprint, a member of the alliance.

"We will be able to deliver that speed on existing telephone lines, so we don't have to rewire homes or install expensive equipment at the customer's residence," Prout said.

Sprint has been actively testing ADSL technology and has completed trials of high-speed ADSL in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Orlando, Florida.

Other phone companies backing the new group include Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, SBC Communications and US West.

Network equipment makers participating include 3Com Corp., Lucent Technologies and Texas Instruments.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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