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NetComm Teams with Alcatel to Enter DSL Space

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] NetComm Limited, best known as a modem supplier, has formed a strategic alliance with Alcatel to build an Australian broadband DSL network. Alcatel is also rolling out Telstra's ADSL network. NetComm plans to establish itself as an early leader in the emerging market, targeting SME and residential sectors. Other companies rolling out DSL networks include Request DSL, which will use Cisco equipment.

Request and NetComm will take advantage of 'declared' access to Telstra's copper local loop. The recently announced charges for this access did not please NetComm chairman Thomas Girgensohn, who acknowledged the possibility that pricing would limit the viability of the service. "This has always been an issue in the past," he said, "while Telstra needs to introduce this technology it wouldn't want to market it too aggressively. If DSL works as it is supposed to there would really be no need for ISDN. Telstra will cannibalize its current market."

Under the terms of Netcomm's MOU, Alcatel will provide a turnkey solution, beginning with an initial rollout in Sydney and Melbourne and extending the network to other capital cities and regional centres with a target of reaching over 180 exchanges nationwide in three years. Deployment will start in the last quarter of 2000, with service starting in the first quarter of 2001.

"There will be significant investment in this project and NetComm and Alcatel are finalizing the business case, details of which will be released within the next two months," the company stated to the ASX.

The agreement to develop a national DSL network follows an MOU signed in March between Alcatel and technology start-up VGI, which is being acquired by NetComm.

The company will cross-market its broadband service to its current modem customers. "We'll also promote our DSL solution to the wider population through our established distribution channels like Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics," said Girgensohn.