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ADSL fundamentally insecure – BT

And Win98, USB 2 the platform of choice

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The head of broadband services at BT has acknowledged that its implementation of ADSL lacks security and it will be up to third parties to ensure customers' data is unhackable.

Chris Gibbs, who is masterminding the introduction of ADSL in the UK for BT, said that the use of a fixed IP address in the implementation it expects to roll out early next year, meant that unless steps were taken by its third-party resellers, data on users' PCs could be accessed by hackers.

"IP always on means you are open to hacking and will need a firewall," he said. "All of the big ISPs have been part of our trials and 60 to 80 have bought the IP central core." It would be up to ISPs to protect their customers' data.

BT had plumped for a Windows 98 solution, because drivers already existed for ADSL, and that would mean consumers would see USB ports installed in their homes. Consumers would then be able to use Win98 peer-to-peer networking throughout their homes, he said.

But ADSL, which Gibbs described as a "parallel universe" compared to ordinary telephone lines, would not work with ISDN, he claimed. That was because of "frequency contention", he said.

That is not the experience of ADSL and ISDN users in Germany. With an installed base of around 50,000 users, Deutsche Telekom has made a virtue of allowing the two to work together, suggesting that BT may wish to preserve its lucrative ISDN business.

One analyst said: "The limited penetration of ISDN in the UK means that BT has to say you can't run ISDN and ADSL together. The answer is that you can."

According to sources close to BT's plans, ADSL will be rolled out for end users early next year at a price of between £610 and £840 per annum, with the contention rate running at ratios of between 20:1 to 50:1.

But pricing, according to the same source, is "likely to be a nightmare", with the ISPs bundling different services, and in one or two cases, free PCs as well, with the BT service.

Further, next year, BT is set to introduce an SDSL service which will allow people to effectively host Web sites without the bandwidth problems associated with ADSL. That, when it happens, could upset BT's apple-cart in the leased line business, as firms rush to free themselves of the heavy fees associated with that service. ®

ADSLoid 222 After re-unification of Germany, Deutsche Telekom ripped out the old infrastructure and replaced it with fibre optic cable. There is now a discussion whether or not to re-install copper so that customers there can have the benefit of ADSL...

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