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Tech Industry

High-speed modem race begins

Rockwell Semiconductor and Lucent Technologies attempt to fortify their position in the mindshare battle for 56-kbps modems, which are expected to hit store shelves in early 1997.

    Rockwell Semiconductor (ROK) and Lucent Technologies (LU) are attempting to fortify their position in the mindshare battle for 56-kbps modems, which are expected to hit store shelves in early 1997.

    The two companies said today that computer manufacturers such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, and AST Computer have joined the ranks of those supporting Lucent and Rockwell's technology, called K56flex.

    Lucent and Rockwell are racing to deploy their technology against competing 56-kbps technology called x2 from U.S. Robotics America Online and CompuServe, who joined ISPs such as Netcom, MCI Communications, Prodigy, IBM Global Network, and US West.

    But the Lucent-Rockwell team think their technology will become the industry standard. "This groundswell of support for our technology means that the consumer has the highest probability of connecting to the ISP of their choices," said Armando Geday, vice president and general manager of Rockwell's multimedia communications division. Lucent and Rockwell claim that remote access server equipment manufacturers supporting K56flex technology represent over 70 percent of the worldwide enterprise access server market.

    Rockwell and Lucent have gathered considerable support as of late. Compuserve and Netcom have even decided to support both technologies. Only the consumer has yet to weigh in with their decision.

    The 56-kbps technology can overcome the speed limits of current modems by using telephone companies' digital switches. Under ideal conditions, the new modems will be able download data at rates up to twice that of 28.8-kbps modems but will still be limited to 33.6 kbps for uploading data.

    Compatible modems both at the user's site and at the central access site will be needed to hook up at the promised speeds until an industry standard is adopted..