Tech Industry

Motorola backs Rockwell's 56 kbps

After extended silence on 56-kbps standards, Motorola's information systems group decides to work with Rockwell on new modem technology.

After an extended period of silence on the subject of 56-kbps modem standards, Motorola's information systems group has decided to work with Rockwell Semiconductor for these new double-speed modems.

Motorola (MOT) says that as a result of the agreement, it expects to introduce 56-kbps modems in mid-March that use chips made by Rockwell (ROK). Both companies also announced their intent to work together on development of national and international standards for the technology.

The two companies have also settled a lawsuit, which alleged that Rockwell used Motorola's patented technology in its chips for V.34 modems that transmit data at speeds of up to 33.6 kbps. Several faster 56-kbps modem technologies include an upstream data path based on the V.34 technology. (See related story)

"With Rockwell, we gain a high level of connectivity with other products and get into the game right now. [Later on] we're likely to be using a variety of chipsets," says Bill Heimbach, director of corporate planning for Motorola's information systems group.

These modem chips determine the standard the modem manufacturer will use.

Rockwell and Lucent are competing against U.S. Robotics, which will use chips made by Texas Instruments in their products.

Currently, the two camps have different 56-kbps communications protocols. Since there is no current standard which determines how modems should talk to each other at these increased speeds, the modems both at the user's site and at the central access site must use the same protocol to hook up at 56 kbps.

By teaming up with Motorola, Rockwell gains the support of another large modem manufacturer. Motorola is the No. 3 modem maker in the U.S. retail market behind Hayes (which also supports Rockwell's technology) and U.S. Robotics, which has the No. 1 retail position. Motorola also has a significant presence in corporate settings with products that are used in the backbone of companywide networks, Heimbach says.