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ISDN products still an option

Teles aims to remind people that ISDN is still alive and kicking by introducing a new low-cost ISDN "modem."

At Comdex next month, cable and high-speed digital subscriber line modems are expected to rank among the convention's hottest communications products, but Teles aims to remind people that ISDN is still alive and kicking by introducing a new low-cost ISDN "modem."

The company will unveil the ISDN Internet Kit for $139, which includes an ISDN terminal adapter and software that automatically configures the service for use. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) allows users to send and receive data at up to 128 kbps when used with two data channels. This compares to a theoretical maximum of 56 kbps for the newest analog modems, which still are limited to sending data out at 33.6 kbps.

Teles will also roll out a communications package for business users that will include an ISDN terminal adapter and a digital telephone that possesses such features such as caller ID and three-way and six-way call conferencing. The Digital Desktop Kit will have a list price of $499. For videoconferencing, the company will offer a ISDN terminal adapter, video capture card, and color camera for $899.

With the advent of cable, xDSL (digital subscriber line), and 56-kbps modems, ISDN providers are fighting to capture the market of consumers and business customers who are looking to abandon the use of traditional analog phone lines to access the Net.

But cable modem service is only available in limited areas of the country, and xDSL service is mostly being rolled out on a trial basis, leaving ISDN as a viable alternative means for high speed Internet access, especially as some providers reprice service at rates closer to that for regular analog service.

Just recently, Netcom announced a new ISDN service priced at $50 per month for up to 100 "B channel" hours of use included and additional time available for 99 cents a channel per hour.