March 12, 1997 2:00 PM ET

U.S. Robotics flexes remote access muscle
By Scott Berinato

  Now that its x2 modems are rolling off the assembly line, U.S. Robotics Corp. is focusing on alternative connectivity.

Today at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, the company will show off DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology, and next week it plans to roll out a cable access system at the National Cable Television Association's Cable 97 show in New Orleans.

On the copper wire side, USR introduced the Viper DSL router for supporting users in a LAN workgroup. The CAP (Carrierless Amplitude and Phase)-based modulation provides an RADSL (Rate Adaptive DSL) connection to an Ethernet LAN. With a splitter, users can also implement voice over the same POTS line that the router uses, officials of the Skokie, Ill., company said.

Initial speeds for the Viper DSL are 1.5M bps downstream and 384K bps upstream. A free software upgrade in the second quarter will allow the Viper to shoot data at 6M bps downstream and 640K bps upstream, officials said.

The Viper DSL will cost $495; a POTS splitter will cost $50 per line. The products, which are in beta now, are expected to ship in May, officials said.

For service providers, USR introduced at CeBIT today an RADSL access concentrator based on its Total Control technology. The initial configuration supports up to 32 ports per chassis, or 16 dual-port AxCell card sets, said officials.

AxCell card sets cost $775. The access concentrator is scheduled to ship in May.

In the cable arena, USR has created the Cable Access Business Unit, which will offer users end-to-end cable access. The unit will offer a system that consists of a Cable Modulator, Cable Access Router, Cable Network Management System and client cable modems. Beta tests are slated to begin this summer, with general availability expected in the fall, officials said. Pricing was not available.

Initial deployment will be a one-way cable system, with analog-modem return, as most of the cable infrastructure is composed of one-way plant. Testing of two-way cable will begin in 1998, officials said.

One analyst said the move into these remote access technologies is a given for modem companies.

"It's a natural for them to do this," said Tim Burke, an analyst with The Yankee Group Inc., in Boston, Mass. "It's all access. And while they'll still sell modems, they won't be around forever."

USR is in the midst of merging with 3Com Corp. and will go by the name 3Com when the deal is completed, which officials expect to occur before June.

USR can be reached at

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