Symmetricom hails trial of asymmetric DSL extender

SAN JOSE -- Broadband equipment provider Symmetricom recently revealed that it has successfully completed a field trial of a product that lets DSL run up to 30,000 feet from a central office.

Typically, DSL does not work well beyond 15,000 feet from a central office.

Symmetricom's product, called the GoLong ADSL Loop Extender, is a repeater that is installed midway through a copper loop.

The field trial, conducted with Chester Telephone, an independent provider in South Carolina, found GoLong could deliver more than 3M bit/sec downstream and 406K bit/sec upstream over a 24,000-foot loop. Without GoLong, the loop could only support 96K bit/sec downstream.

Although there are other technologies that extend the reach of DSL -- such as Paradyne's ReachDSL, which guarantees 256K bit/sec DSL speeds out to 18,000 feet from a central office -- there are no other DSL repeaters on the market, according to Barry Dropping, Symmetricom's director of engineering.

Service providers installing one GoLong repeater on a loop should be able to get good performance out to about 21,000 feet from a central office, Dropping says. Two repeaters would likely be required to get out to 30,000 feet.

A single repeater on a loop would cost $500 to $700, Dropping says.

While that may seem like a lot of money to lay out for a single ADSL user, Dropping notes that once value-added services are factored in, it might be worthwhile for providers to extend their reach.

"The question is what's the long-term cost of losing a customer to cable or satellite," Dropping says. This becomes an especially important question if cable and satellite operators can offer voice services in addition to data, he adds.

Jason Marchek, an analyst with The Strategis Group, believes GoLong could find success in rural communities that don't have a high concentration of central offices.

"What it will do is allow customers that had no chance of DSL to get DSL service," he says.

Symmetricom plans to put GoLong into production in the second quarter.

This story, "Symmetricom hails trial of asymmetric DSL extender" was originally published by Network World.

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