Sep. 21, 1998 GAINESVILLE --- Up to 100 University of Florida students and staff are the testing grounds for the world's first trial of a new residential telecommunications technology that enables an ordinary telephone line to also become a high-speed data connection, providing speeds 30 times faster than today's fastest dial-up modems.
Called Universal ADSL, the new technology provides high-speed, always-on Internet connections via users' telephone line while permitting simultaneous use of the line for voice, fax or dial-up data uses. And, making the University of Florida arrangement unique, both regular telephone use and the high-speed data access are possible for the first time over a single telephone line without use of a line splitter device. Universal ADSL is being provided for the technical trial by BellSouth, using equipment designed by Alcatel.
University students and staff who volunteered for the technical trial will be able to install the equipment themselves and evaluate all aspects of the technology for BellSouth. Once hooked up, Universal ADSL provides a live, dedicated line between the home computer and the university's campus network. While that computer connection is always on, telephone calls can proceed as usual on the same line, without interference.
"BellSouth chose the University of Florida as our test partner because we recognize the outstanding technical abilities they bring to the table," said BellSouth spokesperson Judy Boles. "This trial is an extension of BellSouth's state-of-the-art network in Gainesville. We hope to bring more advanced technical trials to the University of Florida."
Alachua County has one of the highest rates of personal computers per capita in the state, due in part to a new university requirement that all student have access to a computer. To comply with the new rule, all University of Florida residence halls are being wired for computers. The Universal ADSL will give off-campus residents another choice for Internet connections, at speeds that rival computers wired directly to the campus network.
"We are proud to be a national leader in conducting this trial of Universal ADSL," said University of Florida President John Lombardi. "Students and faculty already enjoy quick access to the Internet on campus. Now, they can use the Internet more effectively off campus to conduct research and improve communication between faculty and students."
ADSL, which stands for assymetric digital subscriber line, is viewed as an essential technology to make affordable high-speed data services, especially Internet access, available to home and small business users.
The technology is expected to vastly improve Internet response times for retrieving and transmitting data, according to TeleChoice, an ADSL industry analyst firm. It could also lead to consumer savings by enabling them to use a single, existing line for fax machines, modems, answering machines and telephones.
"The University of Florida and BellSouth feel this trial will provide valuable data on Universal ADSL's approach to existing residential wiring," said Bob Wooldridge, director of Network Planning for Alcatel, a world leader of telecommunications equipment. "These students are very computer literate. They will quickly see the improved performance of accessing the Internet and their campus LAN from their off-campus housing. At the same time, BellSouth and Alcatel are interested in gaining practical experience with Universal ADSL to see what impacts it has on the service stability and quality."
This trial is not part of BellSouth's commercial ADSL service, which will be deployed in certain Florida markets beginning later this year.
The technical trial in Gainesville is being coordinated by the University of Florida, BellSouth and Alcatel. With the University of Florida's computing power, BellSouth's network and Alcatel's equipment, the Universal ADSL will deliver speeds up to 1.5 Mbs (megabits per second) downstream and 160 Kbs (kilobits per second) upstream, depending on loop length and characteristics.
Provided without charge for this trial, Alcatel's ADSL 1000 equipment meets requirements established by the American National Standards Institute as well as the proposed specifications from the Universal ADSL Working Group, formed by leading PC industry, networking and telecommunications companies, to create a framework for a standard for this new technology.
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