January 22, 2001, 8:36 PM — SAN MATEO -- DSL has emerged as the primary broadband technology that people will use to drive the next wave of Internet applications. As the chairman of Efficient Networks Inc., Mark Floyd is helping to drive the adoption of DSL through a broad range of partnerships and alliances. In an interview with InfoWorld Editor in Chief Michael Vizard, Floyd makes the economic case for DSL and outlines the impact it will have on the enterprise as the technology continues to evolve.
InfoWorld: How widely adopted are your DSL products at this point?
Floyd: We have products in over 68 different networks, worldwide. About ... half of those are actually in production networks, really starting to deploy DSL, and the other half are in some form of testing. Our largest customers in the United States are SBC Communications and Covad, so we have a major ILEC [incumbent local exchange carrier] and a major data CLEC [competitive local exchange carrier] as the top two customers here. Internationally, we're allied with British Telecom and Telefonica Deutsche Telecom as well as all the major PTTs [postal, telegraph, and telephone companies] in Europe and Southeast Asia.
InfoWorld: What is the one big hurdle that needs to [be] overcome to make DSL proliferate?
Floyd: I think one of the biggest hurdles we've [crossed] is the self-installs, because these guys can't roll trucks to every installation, especially the residential side. The numbers are so large. So self-installs is [the] way it's going to go.
InfoWorld: What's your take on the battle between DSL and cable?
Floyd: I think both technologies will co-exist. I don't think one eliminates the other. In the business marketplace, DSL will be very dominant in that space because most cable networks don't go around business parks or around the business areas. If you moved to residential broadband, that's where the user has an alternative between telephony services, DSL for broadband, or cable. If you think about where DSL is, we have about 800 million copper loops worldwide. That's our universe for targeting DSL. If you look at cable, they don't have near the infrastructure globally.
InfoWorld: How big a business issue is this?
Floyd: I think it is relevant because if you look at an ILEC or even an AOL or some of the larger ISPs, if they lose a customer to a cable network, the cable network is not as open as a telephony network, and so they're going to lose business as well. Once you get on a cable network, you have different ISPs and it's pretty much a closed network.
InfoWorld: A lot of sites are limited in terms of the number of DSL lines that can be run through a neighborhood. Will this always be the case?