The strategy is just plain practical. Since the company isn't willing to bet which 56-kbps technology will become the most popular, it is offering modems based on x2 technology from U.S. Robotics (USRX) and on Rockwell Semiconductor's (ROK) K56flex technology.
Currently, the technologies from Rockwell and USR aren't able to communicate with each other, so in order to get faster connections, users have to make sure that their online service provider uses the same technology.
Practical's 56K Internal Data/Fax x2 or K56Flex modem will be priced at US$149, with an external version costing $50 more. Practical's K56Flex Internal Data/Fax/Voice modem will be priced at $179, and the K56Flex Data/Fax/Cellular PC Card modem for notebooks will be priced at $199.
In other news, U.S. Robotics announced today that owners of Sportster 33.6-kpbs desktop modems can go to participating retail stores such as Best Buy and CompUSA starting the week of April 7 to have their modems upgraded to 56-kbps modems.
Customers who purchased an eligible Sportster 33.6-kbps desktop product after August 15, 1996 can upgrade their modem for $60. Those who purchased the Sportster modems between November 25, 1996 and January 4, 1997 and registered for an upgrade can get a free upgrade directly from the company.
U.S. Robotics says that upgrades for their Sportster Voice and Sportster Winmode modems will be available later this month. More information on the upgrade program is available on the company's Web site.