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56-kbps delay for U.S. Robotics

U.S. Robotics will deliver the first of its 56-kbps modems to stores next week--about a week after the original ship date.

U.S. Robotics (USRX) will deliver the first of its rapid-fire computer modems to stores next week, about a week after the original ship date for the much anticipated 56-kbps products.

A company spokesman said today "we are a few days off" the original ship schedule for the Sportster--a consumer-market modem which will be the first to ship of a total of four new 56-kbps U.S. Robotics (USR) modems. The Sportster was scheduled to show up on store shelves last Monday, but has been delayed while the company continues to test the product.

"The issue has been continued testing," he said, denying reports today that said the product would not ship for weeks. "We are a few days off [schedule], but we are still going to ship within a matter of days," the spokesman said.

A spokesperson from Cardinal Technologies, which expects to ship a USR-compatible 56-kbps modem, also claimed that the delays were "exaggerated."

When the Sportster ships, customers who already have the company's Courier modem will be able to upgrade to the faster speed by downloading the code from the company's x2 technology site, he said.

The company's modems are targeted at consumers, businesses of all sizes, and Internet service providers. All new modems use the company's x2 technology to transfer data at 56 kbps, twice as fast as average current rate. However, both sender and recipient must use the x2 technology for transmissions to work at the faster rate.

NetServer and Modem Pools, two midrange offerings; and Total Control Enterprise Network Hub, designed for use by ISPs and large corporations; will enter reseller channels in March, the spokesman said.

U.S. Robotics, the largest U.S. modem company, is engaged in a cutthroat race for modem market dominance. Competitor Rockwell International is readying its own 56-kbps technology and plans to send parts and software to manufacturers in March.

Despite to the delay, the U.S. Robotics spokesman maintained the company has a jump on the competition since it will ship a finished product next week, while Rockwell will merely be shipping chips.