SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In what could be a prelude to its entry into the ADSL-chip market, Intel Corp. here has signed a major licensing agreement with digital subscriber line software specialist Aware Inc., of Bedford, Mass.
Under terms of the deal, Aware will license its discrete multitone (DMT) software coding technology to Intel, which is making a major thrust into the broadband chip- and system-level markets.
Analysts believe that Intel may be developing its own ADSL and G.Lite chip lines, which would require the DMT software-coding technology from Aware or another source. To date, Aware's DMT technology has been licensed to Analog Devices Inc. (ADI), Lucent Technologies Inc., and NEC Corp., among other ADSL-chip suppliers.
DMT, which enables chip- and system-level products to support full-rate ADSL and G.Lite protocols, is a technology that divides the total bandwidth in an ADSL line into 256 4-KHz channels. DMT is the modulation scheme endorsed by the American National Standards Institute.
Not surprisingly, Intel declined to comment on its plans for using Aware's DMT technology, saying it cannot discuss unannounced products.
Recently, however, Intel acquired the ADSL-based modem-equipment business of Cisco Systems Inc., and intends to sell these products to carriers under its own logo, according to terms outlined in the agreement. At the time, Intel officials said the company would develop its own ADSL chip sets for the modems, but have so far declined to comment further.
For now, the Cisco-designed modems incorporate ADSL chip sets from two suppliers, which industry observers believe to be ADI and GlobeSpan Inc. ADI's chip sets use a DMT coding scheme, while GlobeSpan's ICs rely on a competing technology called Carrierless Amplitude Modulation (CAP). GlobeSpan recently also rolled out chip sets based on its own DMT technology.
While analysts say Intel is developing ADSL chip sets in house, they indicated that the company also could be looking to make an acquisition in this arena to get a product into the market more quickly.
In fact, Intel already owns a 6% stake in GlobeSpan and has invested in another DSL chip maker, Integrated Telecom Express Inc.