Compaq launched its latest Presario 5100c series of PCs last week with the option of incorporating a high-speed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) modem - but only in the US.
Dell also announced plans to bundle DSL modems with selected PCs, but those plans too will exclude the UK.
UK users are presently unable to benefit from the higher-speed connections the bundling deals offer because BT has only just begun trials of DSL technology, which will end next spring (see PC Week, 20 October).
The Compaq modem uses the subset of DSL known as G.Lite which offers a download speed of 1.5Mbps and a transmit speed of 384Kbps, compared to the current 56Kbps maximum. The split speed of G.Lite balances well with typical Internet traffic where data-rich Web sites are downloaded and responses rarely exceed occasional keypresses or short reply forms and Email.
Simon Brooks, marketing manager of BT's ISN (Interactive Services Network) trial, which covers DSL, argued that British firms will not be disadvantaged by the greater connection speeds on offer in the US. "There may be some disparity for a little while but not as great as may at first seem. It will still be pretty quick for UK users even if the system is only half enabled (that is Web sites in the US being capable of 1.5Mbps downloads)," he said.
One advantage BT may gain is in bypassing any teething troubles that DSL may have, Brooks claimed. Also, the gradual uptake in the US may mean a more rapid roll-out to BT's customers. Brooks said that during the current trials, BT is monitoring what is happening in the US and "when the time is right, BT will get into bed with the other DSL providers".
Brooks said that BT has been in discussions with PC manufacturers regarding DSL, but would not name any.
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