SEDONA, Ariz. -- Hoping to establish a brand name in the consumer-oriented Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) chip market, STMicroelectronics has little or nothing to show from its one-year effort to crack the market.
Earlier this year, STMicroelectronics rolled out a line of chip sets based on an asymmetric DSL standard called G.Lite. These products were developed in conjunction with Nortel Networks Corp., the communications-equipment powerhouse in Canada.
So far, though, ST acknowledged that it has found only one customer for the product--Nortel. No other customers have embraced the product line.
"We've shipped some G.Lite-based chip sets to Nortel," said Patrick Sullivan, vice president of the Communications Business Unit at ST, in a presentation given at a technology conference sponsored by the company in Sedona last week.
The disclosure reflects a major disappointment for ST. The product was supposed to put the European company on the map in the booming but competitive DSL chip market.
For years, ST has been making full-rate ADSL chip sets on a foundry basis for Belgium-based Alcatel Microelectronics, the world's leading supplier of these products. While ST garners healthy profits from its foundry relationship with Alactel, ST itself does not sell these full-rate ADSL chips under own logo.
Other companies are also reporting little or no demand for G.Lite, a stripped-down version of full-rate ADSL technology. G.Lite is a consumer-oriented, digital-modem standard that transports data at speeds up to 1.5-megabits-per-second, while the full-rate ADSL standard moves information at 8 megabits per second.
Recently, Infineon Technologies AG said it is de-emphasizing G.Lite chip line in order to focus on full-rate ADSL and symmetric DSL (SDSL) technologies (see Nov. 21
The disclosure comes as no surprise to analysts and observers. Developed in 1998 by Compaq Computer Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., G.Lite originally was supposed to hit the mass markets in late 1999, but the technology has yet to appear.
G.Lite was envisioned as a low-cost, always-on technology that could be easily deployed to the masses. Unlike ADSL, G.Lite does not require the installation of a "splitter" at the home to separate the phone and data services that traverse a shared line.
G.Lite encountered major problems in field tests, due in part to compatibility issues among chip and equipment suppliers. Data-connection rates were also hindered, due in part to the poor quality of copper wiring in most households.
And signaling problems between the phone line and the modem forced carriers to install an expensive passive component called a microfilter in every phone jack.