Vendors focus on spreading DSL from city centers

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

The Digital Loop Carrier remote cabinets that serve customers outside major metropolitan areas may soon bring broadband service to a phone line near you.

Last week at SuperComm 2001, three vendors sought to shoehorn DSL gear into DLC boxes to bring broadband to the rural masses.

Lucent Technologies Inc. and Net to Net Technologies showcased mini-DSL access multiplexers (DSLAM) that can squeeze into remote terminal cabinets, while Catena Networks Inc. unveiled what it calls a Broadband Loop Carrier designed to replace existing DLCs.

"Most of the metro-area central offices have DSL equipment now," says Adam Guglielmo, an analyst with TeleChoice Inc. "The focus now is to reach all customers with DSL."

Lucent's Stinger Micro Remote Terminal (MRT) is a pizza box-sized unit that provides up to 36 asymmetric DSL ports. Qwest Communications will deploy it later this year to extend the service provider's DSL service area.

The ATM-based MRT is the sixth member of Lucent's Stinger DSLAM family and will be generally available in the third quarter, with a list price of less than US$250 per port.

Net to Net is also finding room in the DLC closet for its Sirius SuD2000-6 and SuD2000-12 symmetric DSL Micro DSLAMs. Like the Stinger MRTs, the Sirius family is tiny: A six-port unit is 8 by 8 inches by 1 inch, and the 12-port model is 8 by 11 inches by 1 inch.

Both models provide SDSL connections at up to 2.3M bit/sec per line. Providers can bond up to four of the lines for a 9.2M bit/sec connection.

Like Net to Net's other DSLAM offerings, the Sirius is Ethernet-based. The products include IP quality-of-service and voice-over-DSL support.

The target market for the Sirius family is independent phone companies, says Eric Knapp, Net to Net's director of marketing. The products are expected to ship in the third quarter and will cost about $300 per port.

While Lucent and Net to Net are aiming to upgrade existing DLCs, Catena's CN1000 Broadband Loop Carrier (BLC) seeks to replace them. Catena, which also makes a DSL-enabling line card for DLCs, says its BLC is more efficient than an upgraded DLC, because it supports plain old telephone service (POTS) and DSL on every line without requiring any added equipment or maintenance.

"We've done the integration in silicon, so every single POTS user becomes a potential DSL user," says Bob Machlin, Catena CEO.

Customers can be DSL-enabled remotely through Catena's CatenaView Element Management System. Initially Catena is supporting ADSL but it plans to eventually support single-pair, high-speed DSL as well.

The CN1000 can also let providers transition to next-generation packet voice because it includes an imbedded media gateway, Machlin says.

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