ISDN modems trump cable, DSL, for now

Integrated Services Digital Network (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.

The preference for ISDN modems will remain relatively flat, seeing a 2 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 5 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 64Kbit-per-second 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, said Johnson, 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 standardised and there needs to be a proliferation of DSL and cable networking products, said Johnson. 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, 3Com and US Robotics, are primary vendors in the DSL and cable modem market segments, the study said.

Other key findings of the report include:

-- 90 percent of all organisations have telecommuting programs in place.

-- Business travel and remote branch office connections also play a significant role in the demand for remote access.

-- The remote access market will see high growth rates during the next two years as most organisations plan to double the number of employees who currently access the network remotely.

Further information on the report, which analyses the compilation of 250 interviews with network managers regarding modem usage, is available at: http://www.cahnersinstat.com/.

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