ISDN leads high-end modem market

ISDN modems will continue to dominate in 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, a Newton, Mass.-based consultancy.

The preference for ISDN modems will remain relatively flat, seeing a two-per -cent decline over the next two years, predicted Emmy Johnson, senior analyst for Cahners and author of Telecommuting & Modern Trends — The User’s Perspective. The preference for Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) modems is estimated to rise 10 per cent and preference for cable modems to grow five per cent over the same period, according to the study.

Interest in ISDN is still very strong, Johnson said. “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 64Kbps speeds of ISDN modems are driving interest in alternatives such as DSL and cable modems. Companies that use ISDN modems have the additional expense of installing new cabling, Johnson said, whereas DSL modems can connect over existing telephone lines and cable connects over cable television line. In addition, DSL and cable modems are faster, running at speeds of 6Mbps to 8Mbps, and 30Mbps, respectively.

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, Johnson said. If one standard is not set for DSL modem technology, the ISDN segment will profit from that, she said.

Also, telephone companies need to improve support for these technologies, she said. “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 said. Currently, Cisco Systems Inc., 3Com Corp. and U.S. Robotics Corp., are primary vendors in the DSL and cable modem market segments, the study said.