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ISDN still trumps cable, DSL

December 16, 1998
Web posted at: 4:40 PM EST

by Cheri Paquet

(IDG) -- Integrated Services Digital Network modems will dominate the digital modem market for the next couple of years, despite a growing interest in faster, less-expensive remote access methods, according to a recent study by Cahners In-Stat Group.

The preference for ISDN modems will remain relatively flat, seeing a 2 percent decline over the next two years, predicts Emmy Johnson, senior analyst for Cahners and author of Telecommuting & Modern Trends -- The User's Perspective. The preference for Digital Subscriber Line modems is estimated to rise 10 percent and preference for cable modems to grow 5 percent over the same period, according to the study.

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Interest in ISDN is still very strong, Johnson says. "DSL and cable modem technologies are still ramping up and are not as widely available or established as ISDN."

But the high installation costs and relatively low 64-kilobits-per-second speeds of ISDN modems are driving interest in alternatives. Companies that use ISDN modems have the additional expense of installing new cabling, says Johnson, but DSL modems can connect via existing telephone lines, and cable connects over cable television lines. In addition, DSL and cable modems are faster, running at speeds of 6 megabits per second to 8 mbps and 30 mbps, respectively.

Needed: Standards, telco enthusiasm

Despite their advantages, in order for DSL and cable modems to make significant inroads, DSL needs to become standardized, and there needs to be a proliferation of DSL and cable networking products, says Johnson.

Also, telephone companies need to improve support for these technologies, she says. "The telcos generally have an old-world mentality and need to start supporting newer technologies."

The technology with the best price, performance and availability will be the future market leader, Johnson says. Currently, Cisco Systems, 3Com, and U.S. Robotics are primary vendors in the DSL and cable modem market segments, the study says.

The report also finds that 90 percent of all organizations have telecommuting programs in place, and that the remote access market will see high growth rates during the next two years as most organizations plan to double the number of employees who currently access the network remotely.

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