Managed broadband service provider ZCorum aims to level the playing field for telcos that have had problems finding tools specifically designed to manage their DSL networks. The company says it’s in the midst of a development project that will leverage its TruVizion diagnostics application for cable-modem networks with the TR-069 standard for management of DSL modems (click here for more information).

The company previewed the new DSL diagnostics capabilities last week at the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) Innovation Showcase in Florida, part of the rural telco association’s annual winter convention.

Scott Helms, vice president/Technology, say he knows very well the challenges telcos face: “We’ve been providing engineering and end-user support on the Internet side of the business for telephone companies since 1995 — back when they just started offering dial-up service — and later helped them expand as they rolled out DSL. We started supporting cable providers a short time later, and it was immediately clear that cable would have an advantage over their telco counterparts when it came to management of their broadband services.“

Helms notes cable providers had the benefit of starting out with strong standards organization in CableLabs, which developed the DOCSIS standard for the provisioning and management of cable modems.

“That standard made it much easier to develop tools to diagnose subscriber and network issues, because you knew your code would work with any network gear and customer premise equipment that was DOCSIS-compliant," he explains, and then he contrasts this with DSL, which has no single organization responsible for the development of standards.

“It was a long time before there was consensus on a single standard to manage DSL modems. I think the reputation of DSL service has suffered because of that. Cable providers were able to be more efficient in their operation, could manage their networks better, and resolve issues faster,” he continues. “Over time, this made people believe that DSL technology is inferior to cable when that’s not the case. Telcos just haven’t had the tools to help them improve their operation and the reliability of their service.”

With that in mind, ZCorum “now is in a great position to narrow the gap that has plagued DSL providers as far as diagnostics and configuration management,” Helms adds. “We have a successful diagnostics application for cable modem networks to build upon, and the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 standard is now strong enough for us to provide similar capabilities for DSL networks. Best of all, we’ll be supporting both types of broadband networks in the same tool, which will be very interesting for providers who serve both DSL and cable-modem subscribers.”

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