Digital subscriber line (DSL), the technology that turns regular copper phone lines into high speed fibre-like links, dominated this week's Comnet show in Washington.
After spending several years on the drawing board, vendors are hoping that 1999 will be the year when DSL finally gets mass commercial deployment across the world.
Networking vendors, both old and new, announced new products, demonstrations and customer contracts at the show in Washington DC that use the various emerging flavours of cutting edge DSL technology.
3Com announced two new DSL modems and a contract with US digital network operator Flashcom. 3Com's symmetric DSL (SDSL) modem offers duplex transmission at speeds between 128Kbps and 1.5Mbps.
Flashcom will offer a constant high speed connection to its DSL network using 3Com' SDSL modems for around $79 per month. 3Com expects SDSL to soon be available in 24 key metropolitan areas in the US.
In a bid to convert ISDN users to DSL, 3Com also launched an ISDN DSL modem (IDSL) that offers similar connection speeds to ISDN, but unlike ISDN it offers a constant connection and flat rate billing.
Very high speed DSL (VDSL) technology was used by US vendors Vbrick Systems and Viagate Technologies to demonstrate TV quality video and CD quality audio over a copper circuit. VDSL can transport up to 27Mbps of data over up to 3,000 feet of copper phone wire.
Efficient Networks demonstrated a "splitterless" version of its Universal Serial Bus asynchronous DSL (ADSL) modem. ADSL customers need a splitter to separate the phone line into two lines - one for analogue voice and the other for DSL data. Splitterless ADSL makes installation easier because no splitter is needed.
The splitterless ADSL modem, "illustrates the technology evolution of DSL and alerts network service providers and end users that standards based consumer installable DSL modems are a reality," said Efficient Networks spokesman Peter Bourne.
Pairgain Technologies announced support for HDSL2 in its Avidia System integrated access concentrator. High bit rate DSL (HDSL) provides up to T1 speeds over 12,000 feet, but requires two copper pairs. HDSL2 provides the same speed on just one copper pair.
General Datacomm Industries also announced an HDSL2 interface unit. One user said using HDSL2 would improve the current utilisation rate of its HDSL based network from 20 per cent to 80 per cent.
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