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56-kbps standard proposed

Lucent Technologies outlines its proposal to create an industry standard for high-speed 56-kbps modems.

    While the market rushes to create its own standard, Lucent Technologies (LU) today outlined elements of its proposal to create an industry standard for high-speed 56-kbps modems.

    At a meeting of the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association, a national trade organization, Lucent representatives discussed plans for achieving downstream transmission rates of 56 kbps using technology they are working on with Rockwell Semiconductor, as well as techniques for eventually increasing upstream transmission rates to 45 kbps.

    Company executives said a standard for the technology is needed so that modems from different manufacturers can talk to each other. "The International Telecommunications Union also will be looking into a standard, but international standards typically take years to evolve, and the U.S. market is moving too fast to wait," said Bob Rango, a general manager with Lucent, in a prepared statement.

    The statement was made in reference to the race between U.S. Robotics and Lucent to get the faster modems to market before a standard is set. The idea is that the first one to market will sell more modems and create a de facto standard. In a proposal to the ITU, a United Nations agency, U.S. Robotics has asked that that its technology be adopted as a worldwide standard in October.

    Both the K56Flex technology from Lucent and Rockwell and the competing x2 modem technology from U.S. Robotics require that the service provider have a direct connection to telephone companies' digital switches.

    U.S. Robotics announced results of trials of its x2 modem technology earlier this month, saying that the maximum downstream transmission speeds are limited to 53 kbps, not the 56 kbps that was originally promised. U.S. Robotics says Federal Communications Commission regulations "limit the signal level" that digitally connected server equipment can transmit, effectively limiting download speed.

    Lucent discussed the results of their tests at today's meeting, but the contents of those discussions were not available at press time.