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Cable Modems Expect Bright Future

ANAHEIM, CA--This morning's announcement of a new cable modem protocol made here at the Western Cable Show is likely to prompt telephone rivals to make ISDN lines more attractive to both home and business PC users looking for fast Internet links.

Look for ISDN service prices to drop and for telephone providers to bundle ISDN services more intelligently. Currently, ISDN solutions are extremely difficult to implement as CNET's Christopher Barr says in his columns, "ISDN nightmare, part 1" and "ISDN nightmare, the final chapter."

At a panel discussion here this afternoon, company representatives from @Home, Excalibur, Comcast, and Hewlett-Packard talked about the rosy future of cable modem-based online applications.

Tim Evard, president and CEO of Excalibur Group, trumpeted his company's successful cable modem in Elmira, New York. Dubbed Line Runner, the year-long trial offered subscriber lines to America Online and cable offerings for $14.95 per month. Full Internet access was available for $25 per month. "It's been hugely successful," said Evard.

Cable modem technology should really take off in 1997, according to Sean Doherty, vice president of development for Palo Alto, California-based @Home.

The technology is promising, but the underlying network is still the key hurdle, said Digital Media analyst Neil McManus. "TCI is essentially carrying the Internet," he said. "Their plan is to offer Net content over their own fiber network."