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AOL deploys 56-kbps standard

The online giant is aiming to offer users with 56-kbps modems faster access to the service by rolling out support for the V.90 standard.

America Online today said it has deployed the International Telecommunication Union standard V.90 modem protocol for 56-kbps access across its network, in an effort to open up access lines for users who increasingly are taking advantage of faster modems.

Previously, the online giant supported users of both the x2 modem technology developed by 3Com and the K56flex technology developed jointly by Lucent and Rockwell, which were not compatible. Users with 56-kbps modems will be able to access AOL's network more easily now, because they no longer have to choose an access number based on a certain modem technology, the firm said.

Members of the International Telecommunication Union in February agreed to a standard for 56-kbps access, dubbed V.90. The standard came about as users wanting faster access were faced with technologies that conflicted; often Internet service providers offered access with one technology or another, forcing users to choose an ISP partially based on what modem technology it supported.

Along with the desire for easier access to AOL--which has had its share of network overload and consumer ire over busy signals--users increasingly are looking to access the Net at faster speeds.

Faster access makes surfing easier, and also allows Net users to enjoy the ever-increasing bandwidth-intensive features on the Net such as heavy graphics and streaming audio and video. To that end, AOL and others have begun trying out speedier access options, including cable and digital subscriber lines (DSL).

Those options, which offer access at much higher speeds, also can carry hefty price tags. With support for the 56-kbps standard, AOL is looking to give users somewhat faster speeds without the additional costs of cable or DSL.