Vendors cooperate to spur further DSL development

Major DSL equipment vendors and service providers, including Cisco Systems, 3Com, Quest and SBC, have joined forces to launch the OpenDSL initiative. The goal of the initiative is to drive the development of a standard software specification for DSL that would facilitate equipment interoperability and simplify the process of CPE (customer premise equipment) configuration.

The complex and lengthy DSL installation process, involving a four-to-six-week wait and multiple visits from a service provider, is a major hurdle to widespread adoption of DSL today, according to Enzo Signore, director of marketing for Cisco’s DSL business unit, in San Jose, Calif.

Formal cooperation among multiple vendors and service providers is necessary to solve these problems, as well as to open up the retail channel for CPE devices, which will further the adoption of DSL, Signore said.

“The initiative has been designed to drive the standards process to solve configuration problems of CPE devices in a standard way so that any service provider or equipment provider can adopt this technology and not be locked in to proprietary solutions any longer,” Signore said.

In addition to bringing high-speed Internet connectivity to homes, DSL is gaining favor in both small and large businesses as a way to connect branch offices and the growing number of telecommuters. Development of an open DSL standard will simplify the way enterprises interact with service providers, according to Signore.

“The importance [of a DSL standard] in the business market is quite high,” Signore said. “Telecommuters [can be] located potentially anywhere geographically, so companies have to work with different local service providers in each region where the telecommuter is located. Today the enterprise has limited [equipment] options and needs to deal with multiple proprietary solutions from each service provider.”

Participating companies are creating a third-party DSL certification program, in which vendors can test and certify equipment for interoperability. OpenDSL testing will cover physical- and system-level interoperability issues and will eliminate the need for expensive in-house testing programs currently used by DSL equipment vendors and service providers, OpenDSL officials said.

The OpenDSL initiative works in cooperation with the DSL Forum, which in turn works with standards bodies to further DSL standards development. The first contribution will be made at the end of this month at the DSL Forum meeting in Dublin, Ireland, and a draft of a specification is expected by the end of the year, Signore said.

“The key is not to drive vendor-specific [solutions] but open standards and to accelerate deployment of DSL. Our approach, all done in software, is to work with the existing equipment in the network, leveraging ATM, IP and SNMP, to really accelerate the deployment of an ultra-configurable solution,” he said.

More information on the OpenDSL initiative can be found at