****Update - 56Kbps Modem Standard Now A Reality
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, 1998 FEB 5 (NB) -- By Bob Woods, Newsbytes.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Thursday approved a preliminary standard for 56 kilobits per second (Kbps) modems, according to 3Com [NASDAQ:COMS]. 3Com developed the x2 56Kbps technology, which directly competed with and could not communicate with the K56flex technology developed by Lucent Technologies [NYSE:LU] and Rockwell International [NYSE:ROK].
The standard was approved at an ITU conference that wraps up Friday in Geneva,
Switzerland, officials said. The new ITU standard will be assigned a new V-series
number, after it was previously called "V.pcm" for "pulse code modulation."
ITU's next step for the new 56Kbps standard is to formally ratify it at another
meeting this September. But the final vote is usually just a formality, Newsbytes
Manufacturers of modems that have used the 3Com x2 and the Lucent/ Rockwell
K56flex technologies have promised software upgrades to the new standard. That
same pledge has been made to Internet service providers (ISPs) and others who
have also used the older proprietary 56Kbps technologies, and will use the new
standard. Previously, x2 modems could not "talk" with modems equipped with K56flex
at 56Kbps- class speeds.
Last month, 3Com and Lucent Technologies said they would begin testing their
respective 56Kbps modems to make sure they communicate with each another when
using the new standard (Newsbytes, Jan. 20, 1998). New modem products based
on the draft standard should be available from both companies within a few months,
officials said last month.
Modem manufacturers are able to build standards-compliant modems before the
standard has received formal ratification because the technical aspects of a
determined standard are now frozen with Thursday's preliminary okay, 3Com officials
In addition, Lucent and 3Com will continue to support their respective proprietary
technologies, meaning that the Internet service provider (ISP) base will not
have to provide two separate protocols. For example, any x2 compatible provider
will be able to communicate with a consumer who has either x2 or the new 56Kbps
The 56Kbps arena has seen a lot of action since companies began shipping modems
based on either x2 or K56flex, Newsbytes notes. But some consumers have been
wary to buy modems based on the incompatible technologies. So the ITU began
working in April 1997 to develop the pulse code modulation standard. The new
standard uses the digital connections found at the ISP end to boost modem speeds
coming from the ISP to the consumer to as high as 53Kbps -- the maximum speed
currently allowed by law in the US. The "upstream" path, or the speed achieved
from the consumer's PC to the ISP, can go as fast as 28.8Kbps.
The high-speed 56Kbps analog technology works best with applications that need
fast downloading speeds like surfing the Internet, Newsbytes notes. Applications
like videoconferencing, which needs a fast dual- directional path, are better
suited for technologies like integrated services digital network (ISDN).
Reported By Newsbytes News Network: http://www.newsbytes.com .
(19980205/Press Contacts: Jan Rasmussen, 847-676-7901, or Sara Powers, 847-583-2643,
both of 3Com /56KBPS/PHOTO)
© 1998 Newsbytes. All rights reserved.
Last noodled with March 1998.
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