SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Just when protocol issues have been settled in the asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) market, two chip makers have thrown the industry into confusion by possibly driving yet another new, high-speed standard for the technology.
The move could push out the mass deployment and market acceptance of consumer-oriented ADSL technology even further, according to analysts.
The two ADSL chip makers, Centillium Communications Inc. and GlobeSpan Inc., have created new wrinkles in the consumer-oriented G.Lite space by separately announcing products that double the data-throughput rates of this technology from 1.5 Mbits/sec. to 3 or 4 Mbits/sec.
But by doubling the data rates of G.Lite, the two companies have strayed from this standard to some degree, reportedly driving a new, higher-speed version of the technology, which is being referred to as G.Lite Plus.
Saying that they are not forging a new standard, Centillium and GlobeSpan claim they are giving carriers and OEMs the option to deploy a more competitive version of G.Lite technology. To date, major carriers have not deployed G.Lite due to its lackluster performance rates and interoperability issues, analysts said.
Although G.Lite Plus sounds promising, the technology will put the ADSL industry in further chaos and could push out the overall acceptance of G.Lite, according to Kim Funasaki, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Mountain View, Calif.
The G.Lite Plus concept "creates more confusion in the market," Funasaki said. "It could also force OEMs and carriers to delay their overall [G.Lite] deployments. What the industry should do is decide on a single standard and stick to it."
Competitive ADSL chip suppliers agreed. "I'm not sure what [G.Lite Plus] really gives you," said Dan DeGuzman, senior manager of ADSL products at Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Microelectronics Group, Allentown, Pa. "What [Centillium and GlobeSpan] are saying is: 'Forget the G.Lite standard. It really doesn't matter.'"
Others also dismissed G.Lite Plus, saying the technology has already bombed in the industry.
"It's old news," said Brian Gillings, vice president of marketing at ADSL chip maker Integrated Telecom Express Inc. (ITeX). "We tried the same thing last year, but the telecom companies are saying that G.Lite is not the right way to go. They want a technology that is scalable."
For its part, however, GlobeSpan believes that the market is ripe for a higher-speed G.Lite technology, which still falls under the specifications of the so-called G.dmt standard.
"There has been some talk in the industry about G.Lite Plus, but I would not say that we're pushing a new standard," said Andrew Weitzner, product manager at GlobeSpan, located in Red Bank, N.J. "We're just giving customers the option to deploy their systems at higher speeds."
Instead of pushing G.Lite, ITeX Inc. this week announced a multirate ADSL chip set based on a software-modem technology. The company's so-called SAM (Scalable ADSL Modem) product provides full-rate-ADSL capabilities at half the cost and power of traditional chip set solutions, according to the Santa Clara, Calif., company.
"ITeX is bringing ADSL technology to the masses," said Rich Forte, president and chief executive of ITeX. "We have announced a full-rate software-modem technology for sub-$1,000 PCs."
The product is now available for $25 in quantities of 1,000. In high volume, the product is less than $18.
GlobeSpan meanwhile is offering a software upgrade to its Titanium Fourte family of multirate, DSL-based chipset lines, which would drive the speed of G.Lite technology from 1.5 Mbits/sec. to 4 Mbits/sec. The Titanium Fourte chipset, now available, supports G.Lite, full-rate ADSL, rate-adaptive ADSL (RADSL), and Japan's ADSL standard.
Also raising the bar was Centillium. The company announced an eight-port chip for central-office applications that it said boosts G.Lite speeds from 1.5 to 3 Mbits/sec.
However, a spokeswoman for Centillium, Fremont, Calif., said, "We are not driving a new standard."