Corporate network service provider ANS Communications announced 56-kbps dial-up service for its customers in 95 U.S. cities today, the latest example of the Internet access technology's expansion.
The announcement marks the first major step in the company's widespread deployment of the service to its corporate customers. ANS is the America Online (AOL) subsidiary that is being sold to telecommunications giant WorldCom (WCOM).
ANS expects to have at least 90 percent of its 220 sites in the U.S. supporting 56-kbps by the end of October, according to product manager Cindy Snedegar.
Using x2 modem technology developed by U.S. Robotics (which was acquired by 3Com (COMS) earlier this year), ANS will offer the access to its SureRemote customers. SureRemote is ANS's service that provides remote access to corporate intranets. The software-based upgrade will be free to those customers.
ANS provides AOL with about half of its dial-up capacity, and some of that capacity uses 56-kbps technology.
56-kbps Internet access, clocking at about twice the speed of current 28.8-kbps modems, has had a slow start because a standard has yet to emerge that will reconcile competing and incompatible technologies. Snedegar acknowledged that only users with an x2 modem would be able to take advantage of the new service but downplayed the importance of the standards problem.
"We don't expect it to be an issue," she said. "There's no standard today, so we chose to go with x2 technology. We chose to go ahead and feel very confident that USR and 3Com will be right on top of the standards when they come out. For now, we felt it was better to have something than to wait for the standard to emerge. A lot of customers have been asking for this, and x2 in our user base is a very popular 56-kbps technology."