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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Monday, October 13, 2003


DSL Prime: Insightful inside news and analysis from the telco world

Nobody covers the DSL world and incumbent telcos as thoroughly or with as much insight as Dave Burstein in his DSL Prime newsletter. Last week's many news items and articles included:

"Power mad modems: The Bells want them fixed"
"Who's going to pay for fixing performance robbing systems?" is a big question for the telcos, who of course would prefer their suppliers, mostly Alcatel, pick up the burden. Design errors made several years ago mean most DSL gear in COs blasts 100's to 1000's of times the necessary power to many lines. That made for great results in lab tests initially, with few problems (except long reach customers) when take rates were under 10% and speeds capped under a meg. But with more active lines to interfere with each other, and marketing people insisting on 3 mbps and more, reliably delivered, the problem has become severe. The standards and specifications were not entirely clear, and currently everyone's pointing the finger at someone else to blame."

"Are new DSLAMs as good as they claim? Untested, unproven, uncertain"
"The new generation of DSLAMs is so much better, you'll want to move over quickly but not blindly. 'Have you ever tested your DSLAMs using the features your PR is promising?' I've asked at least eight major manufacturers. No one has. One shot back "What do you want us to do, hook up 350 television sets simultaneously? None of the test and simulation vendors can do anything like that." Actually, I think that's exactly what they need to do (real or well simulated), if their marketing VP is swearing to customers such a service will work. Everybody in technology knows how often products don't work as promised in the real world. DSL's key example is the early DSLAMs and modems. They promised to serve customers reliably to 18,000 feet, but most telcos found far too high a problem ratio beyond 12,000-15,000. Similarly, Verizon's "DSL Hell" problems was partly due to control routers that failed unpredictably when loaded."


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