SAN JOSE (ChipWire) -- Recognizing that deployment of G.Lite remains an open-ended question, two major proponents of the technology have softened their positions by adding support for a rival DSL communications protocol to their chips.
The staunch, high-profile G.Lite supporters -- Centillium Communications Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc. -- have broken with earlier plans to field G.Lite-only components and have separately endorsed full-rate ADSL, according to respective announcements made by the companies at this week's DSLCon show here.
Centillium, which previously offered a G.Lite-only chip, rolled out a combination G.Lite/full-rate ASDL device, while Lucent added full-rate ADSL capabilities to its current V.90/G.Lite chip set line. Other major G.Lite-only chip makers -- such as Infineon Technologies AG and Intel Corp. -- are also scrambling to add full-rate ADSL capabilities to their product lines, according to sources.
The introductions come as deployment of G.Lite technology proceeds at a snail's pace, and as full-rate ASDL deployement explodes. That reality is dictating some practical but major changes in direction for chip makers.
"Some of our customers want their equipment to be capable of delivering V.90, some DSL Lite, some DSL full-rate, and some want all three," said Martin Rauchwerk, director of marketing for modem chips at Lucent's Microelectronics Group, Allentown, Pa.
To date, no major carrier has announced a plan to deploy G.Lite, a stripped-down version of ADSL that moves data at 1.5 megabits per second. ADSL is a high-speed, digital-modem technology that moves data at 8 Mbits/sec. Part of the deployment problem stems from interoperability issues. Though a G.Lite standard has been in place for more than a year, there are still issues to be hammered out among the various DSL chip sets and equipment coming from suppliers, according to observers.
As a result, analysts expect that G.Lite, which originally was supposed to reach market in late 1998 or early 1999, will be two years late, at which point the technology will seek market acceptance. Some industry pundits have dubbed the protocol "G.Dead," implying the technology will never get off the ground.
"I don't see any demand in the market for G.Lite," said a spokesman for Alcatel Microelectronics, the world's leading supplier of ADSL-based equipment and chip sets.
Others disagreed. "Today, the ADSL market is full-rate," said Dori Braun, director of marketing for CPE products at Centillium in Fremont, Calif. "Until the market for G.Lite develops, we will have to support full-rate [ADSL]. But do I think there is still a market for G.Lite? Absolutely."
Still, many vendors are hedging their bets. At DSLCon, Centillium rolled out CopperFlite, a two-chip solution that supports G.Lite, full-rate ADSL, and the Japanese Annex A and C ADSL standards. Targeted for routers, home gateways, and set-top boxes, CopperFlite also supports voice. Its voice-over-Pulse-Code-Modulation technology enables users to obtain toll-quality voice services. CopperFlite is sampling, but prices were not disclosed.
Meanwhile, Lucent added full-rate ADSL capabilities to its V.90/G.Lite chip set, dubbed WildWire. Lucent's new chip is priced at $39 each in quantities of 100,000.
In a related announcement, Alcatel introduced a four-port version of its full-rate ADSL chip line. Dubbed the DynamiteTM MTK-20450, the company called the chip set the highest-density product in the market. Using only 0.5 W per line, the chip set is geared for central-office equipment,
digital-loop carriers, and other products, said Patrick Vankwikelberge, xDSL product line manager for Alcatel.
Samples of the chip set will be available in the second quarter of 2000.