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Executive Editor

Forum tries to simplify DSL

Dec 16, 20023 mins

Autoconfiguration would make buying, installing DSL access less painful.

The DSL Forum is trying to promote the wireless-phone-service model to make it easier to buy DSL services.

SAN FRANCISCO – The DSL Forum is trying to promote the wireless-phone-service model to make it easier to buy DSL services.

Just as you can go to computer retail stores and buy both a wireless phone and the phone service, you could buy a DSL modem and DSL service at these stores if all goes as planned. And you won’t have to worry about configuring the modem so it works with the gear in the service provider’s network.

The DSL Forum is working on the first stage via its independent test lab (ITL) program, approved here last week at a meeting of the forum, which is made up of DSL vendors and service providers. The ITL program will test DSL gear and report whether it is interoperable enough to make autoprovisioning possible. Later, that might evolve into a certification program.

The modems and the service providers’ DSL access multiplexers (DSLAM) would negotiate an ATM channel between them. Using a standard set of autonegotiation parameters, any compliant modem would be able to autoconfigure with any compliant DSLAM.

Current services generally require providers to ship a preconfigured modem and follow installation instructions shipped with it on a CD. “[Autoconfiguration] would be simpler for the end user as well as the service provider,” says Jay Fausch, chairman of the DSL Forum’s marketing committee.

If successful, the program could make setting up DSL for business sites easier, says George Gualda, CIO of Link Staffing Services in Houston. Gualda says the DSL Forum’s program would eliminate some of the work service providers go through to configure modems before they ship them. But he notes that in his experience, once they are configured, setting them up is not a problem. The self-installation CDs providers send with the modems are easy to follow, he says.

Gualda says a much bigger problem is providers telling him that DSL service is available in an area where it is not. As a result, he has outsourced his DSL provisioning to OpenReach.

The forum has compiled a list of test houses that it recognizes as being able to perform the interoperability testing.The test for the program would be whether the equipment meets the interoperability specifications set by the forum’s TR-037 technical report.

Also last week, the forum released figures that show use of DSL in North America grew just over 11% in the third quarter and that the split between residential and business users was about 78% to 22%. Worldwide, there are 30.6 million DSL connections installed, reflecting a 19.6% growth in the third quarter, according to the numbers that Point Topic compiled.

The country with the highest DSL uptake is South Korea with 27.7% of potential customers buying the service, more than double the 12.98% take rate in Taiwan which has the second-higheset penetration. The U.S. ranks No. 17 with just a 3.03% penetration.