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Alcatel unveils higher-capacity DSLAM

May 19, 20033 mins
System Management

Alcatel this week unveiled a DSL access multiplexer that quadruples the number of users supported by its previous equipment and has better multimedia service provisioning capabilities.

Alcatel is the market leader in DSLAMs, according to Dell’Oro Group. The company owned 40% of the $2.25 billion worldwide DSL access concentrator market in 2002, far outdistancing the No. 2 vendor, NEC, which had 7.5%, according to Dell’Oro.

To solidify its dominance, Alcatel rolled out the 7301 Advanced Services Access Manager (ASAM). The 7301 is a derivative of Alcatel’s widely installed 7300 ASAM, the platform upon which Alcatel claims to have shipped more than 25 million digital subscriber lines.

The 7301 is designed to go it one better, however. It is a higher-capacity, broader service-enabling cousin to the 7300 that’s intended to accommodate growing subscriber demand for bandwidth-intensive applications, such as business access and residential video services.

A single line on the 7301 ASAM delivers audio, video, and data, and a single system supports up to 10,000 simultaneous users, Alcatel claims. This is a fourfold capacity increase over the 7300.

This capacity increase is also beneficial for DSL services that move closer to users and into remote locations, Alcatel says. In this scenario, the 7301 enables carriers to tap the small and medium-sized enterprise market by offering VPN services over DSL, the vendor says.

A Gigabit Ethernet interface on the 7301 provides a path towards aggregation of Ethernet metropolitan area network services, Alcatel claims.

The 7301 features a 5G bit/sec processor, has a 170G bit/sec backplane and supports 1.4G bit/sec of bandwidth per slot. It also features a 622M bit/sec broadcast video bus and a 155M bit/sec data bus.

The dedicated broadcast video bus enables each user to access up to 250 channels.

Users of the 7300 ASAM can upgrade to the 7301 and swap out the network controller card from the DSLAM’s 12 shelves. Like the 7300, the 7301 is comprised of 12 shelves daisy-chained together through a so-called extender card in each shelf.

Carriers can install the 7300 and 7301 units side by side to facilitate a less disruptive upgrade, Alcatel officials say. Alcatel still plans to offer the 7300 as well; there are no immediate end-of-life plans for the DSLAM.

The 7301 is currently in lab evaluations at several carriers and is still “several months” from deployment, Alcatel officials say.

“The new processing and bandwidth capacities will enable carriers to accelerate the delivery of advanced, comprehensive DSL-based service packages – including digital TV/video – and thereby compete more effectively with their chief rivals, the cable operators,” says Erik Keith, senior analyst for broadband infrastructure at Current Analysis. “Despite its dominance of the global DSLAM market, the company needed to move forward technologically, by enabling support for higher-bandwidth, higher-margin services not only to retain its market share, but also to counter the competitive threats posed by rivals asserting greater subscriber support metrics, bandwidth, and service delivery propositions.”

Keith notes some caveats, however.

“While certainly a dramatic enhancement for the 7300 series, (it) is still an ATM-centric solution that rival DSLAM vendors may attempt to position as not truly future-proof, since many carriers – primarily in the Asia-Pacific market – are deploying IP-based DSLAM systems.” Keith also notes that the 7301’s density and scalability limits – 864 ports per chassis and 2,592 ports per seven-foot rack – are “middle-of-the-road” competitively, giving rivals an apparent advantage against the new system.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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