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USR targets mobile users

U.S. Robotics moves to extend its reach in the mobile marketplace with the first modems for notebook PCs that are upgradable to 56 kbps.

U.S. Robotics (USRX) is moving to extend its reach in the mobile marketplace with the first modems for notebook PCs that are upgradable to 56 kbps. The company also announced a free Internet-access trial service for users of its AllPoint Wireless PC Card modem.

U.S. Robotics (USR) will be offering 33.6-kbps PC Card (formerly PCMCIA) modems in both its Sportster and Megahertz line that are upgradable to the company's x2 technology for 56-kbps PC Card modems.

A cabled version will have an estimated street price of $239, while another version will allow a direct connection to any standard phone jack for the same price. The Sportster PC Card modem will have an estimated street price of $229. No availability dates were given for the modems or the 56-kbps software upgrades.

Like all 56-kbps modems, consumers will have to make sure the modems they buy can communicate with modems used by their service provider to attain the higher connection speed. Otherwise, 33.6 kbps will be the maximum transmission rates offered.

In related news, USR is teaming up with GoAmerica to provide a two-week free trial of GoAmerica's nationwide wireless Internet/intranet access service to those who purchase an AllPoint Wireless PC Card modem. These wireless modems can be used with devices such as Windows CE handhelds, including those offered by companies such as Compaq and NEC running Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.

GoAmerica transmits data over the RAM Mobile Data network, which is a nationwide wireless data network. The service uses an application called AirBrowse that allows users to run standard Web browsers when the user is untethered to the network.

The AllPoint Wireless PC Card modem is a Type II modem the company says works with most Windows CE devices, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and laptop computers. The estimated street price of the modem is $499, while the GoAmerica service starts at $14.95 per month.