& cplSiteName &

Valley Wonk: DSL Man

Column
Column
Column
9/13/2005
50%
50%

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- This just in: The so-called "Father of DSL" doesn't have a cable modem connection in his house.

No, John Cioffi, a Stanford University engineering professor whose research involves signal processing, sports two DSL lines at home, along with an analog PBX about the size of two laptop computers. And he tinkers with them in his spare time. Working with , he's got the lines running at four times their expected speed, he says.

Cioffi's explaining his home life to me over coffee, a meeting arranged simply because I'd always wanted to meet the guy (and I had a column due). Cioffi created the DSL industry, as far as chipheads are concerned, and his name is regularly invoked at broadband conferences.

For the most part, Cioffi, who's looking professorial in a V-necked sweater, enjoys the reputation. But, he wryly concedes, "It's balanced by when your neighbor's DSL doesn't work and they ask you to fix it."

There's also the lawsuits. Cioffi is repeatedly being subpoenaed and deposed as an expert witness, with calls from up to five lawyers in one day. "Alexander Graham Bell, after the invention of the telephone – they say he was in court 600 times." So, he's still got a lot to look forward to.

I wanted to know what Cioffi is up to lately, because his latest DSL work is starting to hit the chip market (and I had a column due).

But first, a quick history: While at Stanford, researching ways to get more bandwidth down a copper line, Cioffi founded a chip company, Amati, which went public in the mid-90s and eventually got sold to Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). The Amati legacy remains: Peter Chow, once a student of Cioffi's at Stanford, is CTO of TI's DSL technology center. And driving down Highway 85, you can see an old Amati trailer parked on an embankment.

Now, Cioffi has some new optimization techniques for DSL, in the form of Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM). It's yet another trick for squeezing speed from copper. After a few years of development, the technology is finally appearing in commercial chips, with firms like ElectriPHY Corp. and Ikanos Communications Inc. quick to note their DSM prowess (although some say Ikanos doesn't count because it implements DSM "Level Zero," a vanilla version that involves less complexity than Levels 1 through 3).

It's in DSM that Cioffi found the impetus for his next startup, Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment Inc. (Assia). He's been on a company-founding fast since Amati, although he's been enticed to join four boards of directors, not including Assia, and three advisory boards. Startups flock to the guy. To invoke Cioffi's name in PowerPoint slides is like saying Alex Rodriguez was on your little league team, or the recently departed RL Burnside once jammed with your band, apparently.

Assia puts DSM into practice. The idea behind DSM is to collect the parameters of each DSL line and tweak each connection accordingly to maximize throughput. What's new is that DSM takes into account the effect each line has on neighboring lines, a factor that's long been irksome for telcos. "We collect that data back in the phone company somewhere, throw it around, and say, 'Could this line go faster?' " Cioffi says.

The appeal of the new startup was twofold. First, it isn't a chip play. "It's more of a service and software that's sold to a phone company. Chips are being commoditized so rapidly, especially in the communications area."

But more important, Assia isn't just churning out another product. Cioffi sees the potential for creating a new type of business, much the way Amati did. While carriers have the technology in trials, it's unclear exactly how the company will make money out of its services. That's the part that seems to pique his interest most.

"Amati was a very special startup, as is Assia, because it was not only creating a business, it was creating an industry. I didn't realize it at the time, but those are special startups. They don't follow the normal rules. It's very difficult to get venture capital, because the return on investment doesn't follow a model."

Even as the DSL drumbeat goes on, Cioffi doesn't turn his nose up at other broadband technologies – one of his board seats is with PON chip vendor Teknovus Inc., for example (see Teknovus Grabs $5M and Teknovus Gives EPON Chip Details). Don't hold your breath for him to buy that cable modem, though.

"Cable's good for TV, but it's not really good for data. There's the sharing problem in the upstream direction. It wouldn't surprise me if the cable opportunity diminished because of competition from satellite and DSL," he says. "And with the phone companies putting a lot of money into distribution [things like FTTx projects], cable could get the squeeze."

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Graham Beniston
50%
50%
Graham Beniston,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:02:00 AM
re: Valley Wonk: DSL Man
You can see which IP DSLAM vendors claim to have DSM or are developing it in my new Heavy Reading report: IP DSLAMs: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis

http://www.heavyreading.com/de...
bitsarebits
50%
50%
bitsarebits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:01:59 AM
re: Valley Wonk: DSL Man
"Cable's good for TV, but it's not really good for data. There's the sharing problem in the upstream direction. It wouldn't surprise me if the cable opportunity diminished because of competition from satellite and DSL," he says. "And with the phone companies putting a lot of money into distribution [things like FTTx projects], cable could get the squeeze."

how is satellite good for data ?

opticalwatcher
50%
50%
opticalwatcher,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:01:49 AM
re: Valley Wonk: DSL Man
"how is satellite good for data ?"

1. DSL is good for data
2. Cable is good for TV
3. Cable is getting squeezed by DSL and satellite

Three equations, one unknown. You solve it.
More Blogs from Column
In the second of a three-part series, OpenCloud's Jeff Gordon delves deeper into the driving forces for adopting a converged service layer.
Edge computing is a compelling option for telcos looking to balance tightening finances with increasing demands for bandwidth and processing speed. 
The conclusions of a new survey, commissioned by OpenCloud and conducted by Heavy Reading, suggests that the move towards converged service layers is now well underway.
WiFi is offering a challenge to the network-centric cellular status quo and that's something that mobile network operator CEOs recognize, believes Devicescape CEO Dave Fraser.
NFV can bring operational headaches as well as operational gains, argues Andy Huckridge.
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.