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Comdex coverage by CNN and

ADSL-based PC wave expected

November 19, 1998
Web posted at: 3:41 PM ET

by David Legard


(IDG) -- LAS VEGAS -- Most major PC vendors are expected to follow the lead set Wednesday by Compaq and Dell by releasing PCs with internal Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) modems by early next year.

But for most users the promise of simple 1.5Mbps Internet access will have to wait for the second half of the year, when telecommunications providers worldwide implement ADSL connectivity.

Following last month's endorsement by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) of the G.Lite ADSL standard, several modem and chip set vendors here at Comdex were showing off early versions of G-Lite products.
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G-Lite-based modems will be easier and cheaper to install than earlier ADSL modems, since they do not require that a separate voice/data splitter be installed. And with a defined standard, users can be confident that their ADSL modem will work with all telecom providers' DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs), vendors said. This interoperability more than compensates for G.Lite's slower speed, vendors believe. Full ADSL can operate at up to 8Mbps.

"We have to get ready with products now," said Richard D'sa, senior sales director at chip set developer Integrated Telecom Express (Itex). "We are talking to several major PC manufacturers about our Scalable ADSL Modem [SAM] chip set."

Compaq on Wednesday started shipping its first Presario consumer PCs featuring integrated G.Lite modems.

Dell CEO Michael Dell later Wednesday said his company this week will start shipping models with G.Lite modems.

Development of ADSL modems is harder than for analog modems, according to Bob Waldie, managing director of Australian company Moreton Bay Ventures.

"With ADSL modems, you only have control at one end of the communication," he said. "It's not client-to-client communications, nor do you have a rock-solid technology like ISDN at the other end. There are still uncertainties about G.Lite interoperability."

But Waldie, whose company is developing an ADSL modem, expects the market to take off in a big way in the second half of next year.

Other vendors showing ADSL modems at Comdex included Digicom Systems, Efficient Networks, Aztech Systems of Singapore, and Indian company Silicon Automated Systems.

The wait for the telecommunication companies to implement DSLAMs and other infrastructure upgrades required to use ADSL modems is a product of the ITU standard's procedure. While chip set and modem manufacturers can go ahead on the basis of last month's endorsement of the standard, telecom companies will wait for final ratification of the standard, expected in June next year.

In some countries, implementation is expected to be fast. Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra currently has a tender out for multiplexers, while Singapore Telecommunications has already begun installing multiplexers from Alcatel on its nationwide ATM network backbone.

David Legard is a correspondent in the Singapore bureau of the IDG News Service. Terho Uimonen of the Taipei, Taiwan, bureau of the News Service, contributed to this story.

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