3Com targets home users with G.lite DSL offering

Networking company focuses on consumer-grade high-speed access technology, with possible UK rollout on the way.

Networking pioneer 3Com has expanded its relationship with DSL specialist Copper Mountain in an attempt to boost the uptake of high-speed internetworking technology in the home.

The announcement came at this week's DSLcon '99 conference in Virginia.

The partnership has previously focused on promoting DSL adoption among its business customers, but now wants to deliver G.Lite solutions to a far broader market, comprising telecommuters, small businesses and residential users. "[We] have forged a strategic alliance to propel DSL into the consumer marketplace, which is the next frontier for DSL expansion," said Jerry Devlin, VP and general manager of 3Com's personal communications division.

Devlin claimed G.Lite would be attractive to consumers because of the relatively low investment requirement by users for kit, ease of installation and delivery of voice and data services over the same line. A range of G.Lite DSL customer premise equipment (CPE) is already being developed.

3Com will provide a raft of CPE equipment and concentrators that support the recently ratified International Telecommunication Union (ITU) G.Lite standard. These include the HomeConnect DSL modem PCI -- which slots inside a user's home PC -- and the HomeConnect ADSL modem Ethernet, which connects to any networked hub, switch or workstation -- PC or otherwise -- via a Network Interface Card (NIC). "The products are readily deployable here in the UK," confirmed Mikko Summala. "We recently introduced the HomeConnect brand portfolio for consumers, and we will be adding USB products in the near future."

Copper Mountain joins the party with a new G.Lite line card that plugs into its existing CopperEdge DSL concentrators. This allows the concentrators to work concurrently with Symmetric DSL (SDSL) and ISDN DSL (IDSL) line cards to enable carriers to use a single platform to provide both business and residential DSL services.

Copper Mountain hasn't made it to this side of the pond yet in person, understandably pre-occupied with the xDSL roll-out across the states. However, 3Com confirmed that interoperability partners in the UK for its G.Lite initiative would include Nokia, Ericsson, Newbridge, Lucent, Alcatel and Cisco. BT announced xDSL in 412 locations around the UK in July.

What it is...

  • DSL is an ideal high-bandwidth interconnect technology for the home or small business, because it uses ordinary copper telephone lines. If your local telephone company offers a DSL service -- e.g. BT -- you could theoretically begin receiving data at rates of up to 6.1Mbit/s, allowing for continuous transmission of video and audio. More usual would be an individual connection providing from 1.544Mbit/s to 512kbit/s downstream and around 128kbit/s upstream.

  • In June of this year, the ITU agreed on a new standard, ITU-T G.992.2, but better known as G.Lite, DSL Lite, UADSL, or "splitterless" ADSL. The standard was driven by the UADSL working group (UAWG), a consortium that included Compaq, Intel, Microsoft, and Copper Mountain. G.Lite is basically a slower, more manageable form of ADSL that doesn't require splitting of the line at the user end, but instead manages to split it for the user remotely at the telco. G.Lite can deliver theoretical rates from 1.544Mbit/s to 6Mbit/s downstream and from 128kbit/s to 384kbit/s upstream. G.Lite is generally acknowledged to be the most accessible form of xDSL.

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