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Motorola cuts modem prices

With the public hesitating to buy 56-kbps modems because there's no standard, the move is an effort to boost sales. Meanwhile, Xircom offers upgradable PC modem cards.

Motorola (MOT) is cutting prices by almost 40 percent on some 56-kbps modems in an effort to spur sales as users continue to debate whether or not they want to buy non-standard equipment, while Xircom is forging ahead with new 56-kbps modems for notebook users.

Motorola says the ModemSurfr56K and VoiceSurfr56K will now be priced from $99 to $129 in the U.S. Motorola says the SurfrSeries 56K modems include software that allows users to direct Internet pages, emails, and faxes to a pager, as well as standard data communications and fax software.

A preliminary standard for 56-kbps modems from the International Telecommunications Union was originally expected this September, but now can't be agreed on until January 1998 at earliest because companies continue to grapple with concerns about intellectual property rights.

Modems using 3Com's U.S. Robotics brand modems with x2 technology don't currently operate with modems based on Rockwell and Lucent K56flex technology, since standards have not yet been set. Motorola and Zircom's modems are based on K56flex technology.

The delay in establishing a technology standard is expected to result in lower-than-anticipated modem sales in the coming quarters.

In related news, Xircom announced new 56-kbps modems for notebook computers.

The company's family of PC Card modems now includes the CreditCard Modem 56 and CreditCard Modem 33.6-Upgradable. The CreditCard Modem 56 will be marketed to small and medium-sized businesses that want to adopt K56flex "pre-standard" technology, while the CreditCard Modem 33.6-Upgradable is being targeted at medium to large-sized businesses who need to buy new PC Card modems now but are waiting to deploy 56K modems when the ITU standard is available.

All of the modems are software upgradable to the future 56-kbps ITU standard for free, the company says. Downloads are available at the company's Web site.

The CreditCard Modem 33.6-Upgradable is priced at $179 and is currently available. The CreditCard Modem 56 will be priced at $199 and is slated to be available in October 1997.