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Notebook network options double

Xircom will soon help notebook users access both Ethernet and 56-kbps dial-in networks.

Xircom (XIRC) says it will soon begin shipping a PC Card modem that lets notebook users connect to Ethernet or 56-kbps networks.

Xircom says it is introducing its PC Card to serve the increasing number of high-performance notebook PCs being used as replacements for traditional desktop PCs. These notebooks need the ability to connect to a corporation's local network as well as dial-in networks.

The CreditCard Ethernet 10/100+Modem 56 will allow users to connect to 10-mbps and 100-mbps Ethernet networks, while the modem also allows dial-up connection speeds up to 53 kbps using K56flex technology from Rockwell Semiconductor and Lucent and can be upgraded to industry-standard connection protocols when they are announced.

As with 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, modems will default to the 33.6-kbps transmission standard. Also, Xircom says current FCC regulations limit maximum download speeds to 53 kbps.

Other features include the ability to allow network managers to use SNMP (simple network management protocol) software to monitor hardware and software on connected systems. The modem also includes technology that prevents damage by high-current digital phone lines and PBX (public branch exchange) systems.

The modem will be available in June for a suggested retail price of $379, according to Xircom.

Separately, Zoom Telephonics (ZOOM) has started shipping its K56flex-based fax-modems in volume.

Zoom says that all of its modems use a DSP (digital signal processor) that can be updated to emerging 56-kbps modem communication protocols through software. The company says the internal version of its modems for PC and Macintosh systems will have an estimated street price of $149 to $179, while the external version of its modems will have an estimated street price of $169 to $199.