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3Com offers fast modem--or money back

3Com guarantees that its new ISDN modem can be installed in 15 minutes.

Hoping to give high-bandwidth Internet access a big push into the home, 3Com today announced a new ISDN modem and offered a money-back guarantee that it can be installed within 15 minutes.

The 3ComImpact IQ external ISDN modem for the PC and the Macintosh is aimed at a broad market of home Internet users, telecommuters, and small businesses. But its installation guarantee is a bold move, considering the legendary difficulty of home ISDN installation.

ISDN, or Integrated Services Digital Network, delivers two data channels in one physical line for speeds up to 128 kbps, about four times faster than the best dial-up connection now available.

3Com's modem eases the installation process by automatically configuring itself to the ISDN line parameters and placing a test call. The modem also has a feature called TollMizer that disguises data calls as lower-bandwidth voice calls, allowing users to pay the cost of a local phone call instead of higher ISDN rates, a 3Com spokeswoman said.

The modem ships in mid-July for PC and Macs for a list price of $499. The likely street price will range from $300 to $350.

With cable modems and other high-bandwidth solutions still being tested, many observers believe that ISDN is the best short-term solution for better Internet access and have criticized the telephone companies, which administer ISDN lines over the public telephone network, for high ISDN prices and reluctant service.

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