3Com and a group of telcos have backed the asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) consortium, which plans to bring high speed Internet access to copper telephone wires later this year.
'VNU Newswire' last week reported that the group, set up by Compaq, Intel, Microsoft and five telcos, has already made progress in organising the Universal ADSL Working Group (UAWG).
The group announced this week that companies including 3Com, Ericsson Telecom, Nortel, Rockwell, Sprint and Texas Instruments will support the initiative to offer Internet access at up to 8Mbps access on existing phone lines.
The backers were drawn by the promise of DSL to offer permanently available, fast access and simultaneous Internet and telephone use on the same line, at a projected cost of around $40 per month and without costly installation fees.
Although some areas will be offered the service this year, the UAWG anticipates that the mass market will only get its 1.5Mbps version of ADSL in 2001. The slower version, called G Lite, is an alternative but interoperable specification that the group proposes for splitterless ADSL that is easier to install than the full version.
3Com clearly wants to protect its leadership in the network access market - its take over of US Robotics last year made it the biggest seller of modems - by joining the ADSL group and offering access to every customer from consumer to enterprise.
Analysts said the idea for mass market ADSL is good but it will only become a reality if the companies can continue to agree and will not split standards, as they did with 56Kbps modem technology.
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