ISDN to the Home -- Low-End ISDN Equipment Vendor Summary

Draft of 19 April 1995 -- Linas Vepstas Please respond with corrections / additions to

WARNING! This document is getting to be very out of date!

New stuff: you may be intersted in X.25 and Frame Relay for Linux!

Unrelated stuff: Check out my chaotic art gallery. Also, how about an on-line air travel ticketing system?

I have been researching for products that somehow address the following questions:
OK I've got ISDN (BRI) in my home, so how do I hook my home computer to it?
OK, so I've got an NT-1 (i.e. I have 2B+D on the s/t channel, using an RJ-45 jack) -- how do I get from that to my computer?
How do I get from ISDN S/T to ethernet/token ring? (A3) with a "bridge" or "router".
What if I have an Intel x86 PC? What if I want to run Linux? What if I don't own/want Novell, Windows, etc.
Disclaimer -- this list may be long, but its not complete. Although the author has striven to be accurate and unbiased, the information in this list may be inaccurate or appear to be biased. Author assumes no liability for misrepresentation, misuse, misadventure, misunderstanding, etc.

The market is changing very rapidly, with new vendors comming out with new products at a fast rate. The original draft of this article was prepared in August 1994, and much of the information below is already stale.

Additional ISDN info sources

Terms & Definitions

Terminal Adapters (TA's)
These attach between you isdn lines and a high-speed serial port on your computer. Software on your host computer (slip or ppp) establishes a connection to the remote computer. I don't know how many PC's have the high-speeds (128Kbs) serial port UARTs that can handle ISDN speeds. I am also told that shallow buffers on most UART's means that your host operating system will service a lot of interrupts a second -- putting a big load on your computer. More accurate info would be appreciated.

An alternative is to buy a separate serial-port-to-ethernet bridge, and hook up the TA to that.

Ethernet bridges pass ethernet data packets unmolested to the remote side. Most ethernet bridges filter the 48-bit ethernet addresses, and not IP adresses. (I think this is the definition of the word "bridge" right?) Thus, a bridge makes it seem like you and the remiote site are on the same ethernet segment. Thus, bridging IPX, & etc. is trivial because the bridge couldn't care less if its IP, IPX, Appletalk, whatever. (right?)

Routers look at IP addresses, and decide which ones to pass through, and which ones to block. Some routers appearently convert between IP and IPX, although I can't imagine what apps would be compatible across such a boundry .... (or am I crazy?)

Design & Purchase Decision Notes

Non-Microsoft OS's
If you're planning on avoiding MS Windows (like me) your best bet is to go with an external bridge or router. The problem is that device drivers for most internal cards have not been widely available, although that seems to be changing.

check out LinkISDN for a broad assortment of low-level ISDN drivers, software, etc.

One or Several Addresses?
For home use, you'll probably want to own one of the single-address models. For one computer, this is plenty. For several computers (even lots of computers), its probably not a bad idea to designate one of them a as the firewall, and follow standard firewall pratices (all the other computers can only get out through the firewall; the firewall is the only m,achine exposed to hacker attacks). For this configuration, all you need is one address! Well How about that!

Bug Report (March 1995)
(Disclaimer -- I was told this. I cannot verify accuracy). There seems to be a deadly combination of three items that can lead to serious ISDN problems in Austin TX. The deadly combo: If you've got this triple combo, you'll want to sue all four companies for breach of services. Rumour has it that Siemens is "soaking" (testing) a s/w patch which will be available may-june-july '95-ish. Ascend is also rumoured to have a trade-in policy, replacing their u-loop products for s/t product plus external NT-1's. You'll probably have to prove you're a victim to get the trade-in.

Manufacturers & Vendors

These are the cheapest ones I could find. At approx $1.2K and up, they're a tad expensive for home use. Most bridge/router vendors specialize in the $5K-$20K range; I did not include these. Most of these vendors also make Switched/56, T1, ISDN Primary Rate and other fancier/more expensive equipment not likely to find its way into the home. Call the vendors for more info.

Advanced Computer Communications

Ascend Communications
1275 Harbor Bay Parkway
Alameda, CA 94502
Pipeline 50 Router
Qutoed list prices:
$995 -- Pipeline 50 HX w/o internal NT-1
$1195 -- Pipeline 50 HX w/ internal NT-1
$1495 -- Pipeline 50 w/o internal NT-1
$1695 -- Pipeline 50 w/ internal NT-1

Resellers & Contacts

Cisco Systems
San Jose CA
or 1-800-888-8187 ext. 6849 (salesman Scott Smith, Sabrina Peeler)
Model 2503 and 2504
Model 2503i -- "Access ProCard"

A local reseller is ISYS in Hurst Texas, 817-428-4475

Sunnyvale, CA
1-800-967-6651 for product lit
1-408-522-9020 for pre-sales support

EveryWare CB-150 & CB-160

EveryWare CL-200 and CB-200

EveryWare CB-400


User testimonial on compression:
> Compression is up to 4:1, but I typically see 1.8 to 1 with data and 
> executables. Pure text runs in the upper 3:1's.


Compatible Systems Corp.
PO Box 17220
Boulder, CO 80308
Salesman Dan Angst

Doesn't support ISDN directly. You need a high-speed ISDN terminal adapter to use this product.

MicroRouter 1000R 
 o List Price $1695
 o 1 ethernet port (thicknet-AUI, thinnet-BNC and 10BaseT)
 o 1 high speed serial port (RS-232, to 112Kbps)
 o 1 low speed serial port (RS-232, for out of band mangament)
 o management by telnetting in. Events can be sent to syslog file.
 o auto-dial on demand
 o PPP support, "interoperates with other PPP compliant routers".
 o "available through a local distributor" e.g.
       Ingram Micro 1-800-456-8000
       Tech Data  1-800-237-8931

CrossCom Marlborough, Mass. 1-800-388-1200 Dallas Sales rep Lou Matthis (214)-247-5221 Announced but not yet available XL2 (avail in octember??) The XL2 is a router -- o 1 ethernet port (AUI 15-pin and thinnet BNC and 10BaseT rj-45 jack) (other models have TokenRing STP and UTP connectors) o 1 "wan" port o 1 "wan" to ISDN pigtail o 1 serial port (rs232) for configuration & setup o CanNOT telnet into it for sys management. Must use serial port/vt100. o full snmp support To get a complete, working system you need: $995 -- hardware $1500 -- microcode $185 -- isdn pigtail ("wan" connector to RJ45 (?) BRI s/t) $115 -- "isdn personality simms"
DigiBoard 1-(800)-344-4273 "IMAC" 1 BRI s/t (rj-45 connector) 1 thin-net (BNC) ethernet connector 1 thick-net (AUI 15-pin ???) ehternet connector 1 serial port (RS 232 ???) config via telnet or serial-port $1695 list price
HBM/datagraf Router $1195 w/o built in NT-1 Reseller Nelson McKinney (512)-288-3999
Network Express Ann Arbor, Mich. (313)-761-5005 Thier cheapest product supports 8 B channels, at $6K. Clearly not for home use. Contact manufacturer for more detail.
Symplex 313-995-1555
Xyplex ????
3Com (408)-764-5000 Lots of products, none support ISDN directly. NetBuilder series, in the $2K+ range, bridge between ethernet & serial ports. A 3rd party ISDN "terminal adapter" will get you ISDN connectivity. This was out of my price range. Contact 3Com directly for more info.

Software routers
Novell Provo, UT 1-800-netware "Netware Multiprotocol Router Plus v2.11" This is a software-ONLY router -- i.e. if you have a PC with an ethernet card in it, and an ISDN card in it, then this software will turn your PC into a router. Netware comes bundled with this system. The catch -- its a single-user system; you have to dedicate your PC to be a full-time router; you cannot use it for other, non-dedicated purposes. Salesman did not know whether there were any certified ISDN cards. Software only -- $1495 Your dedicated PC & ISDN cards -- $ ??? -------------------------------------------------------------------- University of Illinois NCSA Router software router see also RADIUS caller dail-in/out managment database s/w


Here is some info on using and old XT or AT as a router.

Unfortunately, this deals with routing from one ethernet subnet to another; the PC-ROUTE software does not seem to support any of the isdn cards at this point.

PC Boards, ISA and MicroChannel

Network Computing Magazine Sept 1 1994 issue has in-depth review 
and commentary of four ISDN PC adapters.  The information there is far
more complete than that below.
Contact Network Computing at: ...

diehl isdn GmbH
Bahnhofstrasse 63
D-7250 Leonberg
Tel. 49/7152/93 29 0
Fax. 49/7152/93 29 99

Linux driver available on all LINUX mirrors

Gene Chesser owns one of these.
Right now, talks only v.110(european), will have v.120(U.S.) later


Digital (DEC)



the "PC-IMAC"

ISA PC card
1 BRI s/t RJ-45 jack
$795 list prices 

EICON Technology
Montreal, Quebec

EiconCard ISDN/PC

This is an ISA  PC card.
 o BRI S/T 2B + D  over single RJ45 connector.

They provide s/w for Windows, OS/2, SCO UNIX, UNIX SVR4, Netware.
I asked about LINUX. "We'll get back to you on that."

List price $1395



RemoteExpress ISDN LAN Adapter
$499 list

Reseller -- ISDN System Corp. -- Rick Fleisher -- 703-883-0933 


San Gergorio, CA

CyberSpace Internet Card
 o BRI (2B+D) support, 8-wire RJ45 connector to S/T interface
 o 1/2 size ISA bus card
 o "compatible with TCP/IP and PPP software"
 o comes with "WinISDN" windows drivers, DOS & OS/2 also available.
 o uses only one B-channel at a time (future cards will use two B's)
 o See web page for more info


1-800-426-3333 general
1-800-426-2968 order placement
1-800-772-2227 pre-sales tech info help
1-800-IBM-3395, request brochure 13403
A complete description is available via anonymous ftp:

IBM WaveRunner ISDN Digital Modem  
ISA card (also available as MicroChannel),
 o currently uses 1 B channel (64Kb/sec) 
 o statement of direction "software upgrade will use 2 B channels"
 o BRI S/T RJ-45 jack 
 o Additional jack for handset/headset--with future software upgrade
 o Is ALSO a FAX/modem !!! -- up to v.32bis, with MNP4/5
   (i.e. if the ISDN line is called by an ordinary POTS line with modem
   attached, the waverunner will pretend that its a modem too!).
 o list price -- $545
 o Can run PPP, SLIP or V.120

 -- Probably will NEVER have Linux drivers, due to complexity of Mwave
   RTOS needed to run the thing.


++49 89 140 79010 Fax 79011.

Lion Digital Datapump ISDN Modem 
the card costs DM530 from Germany 


Network Express




Terminal Adapters
A "terminal adapter" usually means a box that hooks to ISDN on one side,
and to a high-speed serial port on the other.

Adtran is known for 56/64 leased line CSU/DSU's, modems, etc. etc.

Black Box

ISDN Terminal Adapter 128K
 o 1 ISDN BRI U-loop RJ-45 connector (NT-1 is built-in)
 o supports BONDING for 128Kbit throughput
 o RS-232, RS-366, RS-530A, V.35 interfaces -- 2 DB25 female, 
   one V.35 female connector).
 o Dial from front panel, or use Hayes AT dailing commands.
   "or dial in-band with v.25 bis"
 o $995


(503) 629-7354.  
In Europe, ++44-793-431155.

RemoteExpress Terminal Adapter
 o supports 2B channels (1 BRI)  and 6 B channels (3 BRI lines) for bridge to 
   bridge communication.  
 o $499

Adam G. Tilghman   (619) 658-0743 ,  703-883-0933.

other stuff that may be of interest --
1-800-IBM-3333 general
1-800-IBM-CALL order placement
1-800-ibm-3395 ask for document 11622

7845 NT-1 Extended  --list price $350

The IBM 7845 NT1-Extended is a great NT-1 with a POTS jack.  
Use 2B for ISDN or 1B for ISDN and 1B for POTS.  Further-
more, it takes those COOL supplementary services and makes them
available to all your POTS phones by emulating them on POTS.

           These features are:
           o   Speed Dialing
           o   Re-dial of the last number dialed
           o   Repetitive re-dialing of the last busy number
           o   Return of the last incoming call
           o   Call Hold
           o   Call Retrieve
           o   Call Waiting (up to 10 calls at a time, I think)
           o   Three to six-way conferencing

-- 6 hour off-hook battery, 18 hour on-hook 


> CICAT-HNS Network Products is currently offering products by DigiBoard,
> Adtran, Gandalf, and Combinet at substantial discounts off list price.
> We also offer system integration, training, and installation
> services.
> Kevin Dunetz			CICAT-HNS Network Products 
> ISDN Consultant			9669-D Main Street
> (703)323-7696 (phone)		Fairfax, VA 22031
> (703)323-4683 (fax)             Specialists in ISDN System Integration


NetServ --
Austin TX
Dan Williams, Chris Pantuso
(512) 453-8844

Handle Ascend, Gandalf, Cisco routers


Internet Shopping Network

Use the product search menu to look for bridges, routers.  Sadly, a 
lot of things are mis-categorized (a token ring MAU is listed as a
"modem").  But if you know what you want, some persistent searching
will pay off.


Virtually all of the products above claim U-loop compatible with 
Northern Telecom DMS-100 and AT&T 5ESS central office switches.
Many also claim conformance to N-ISDN. Many also claim conformance 
to numerous european and japanese standards

These folks contributed in some way to this list. Thanks to all
  Jonn Martell, University of BC Computing Services.

Someone writes:
> Nope, I have three phone numbers, three spids on one line and four
> numbers and four spids on another ISDN NI1 line.
> If the phone(s) are not in use then I can use both B channels on the 
> Combinets, if only a single line is in use then I can use both phone and
> bridge. For the user who has the two phones and one bridge I can use
> both phones at the same time, but not the combinet since there are no more B
> channels.
> My understanding that with NI1 (on att 5ESS at least) you can have up to
> 8 phone numbers and eight spids assigned to a single BRI.

V.110 is the european rate adaptation standard, V.120 is the US.
Has to do with how the 64Kbps B channels are supporting data at lower
speeds, i.e. 57.6kbps, 19.2kbps, etc.

The End!