The formation of the Open 56K Forum last week ought to be a milestone, marking a rare industry effort on interoperability and standards. In truth, the 28-strong body of analogue modem vendors is more of a lobby group for Rockwell Semiconductors? 56Kbps modem technology.
Virtually all the Forum members support Rockwell's 56Kbps approach rather than US Robotics' X2 implementation, although USR?s version is available now and many users will invest in the technology.
Even 3Com, in the process of merging with USR, backs Rockwell?s implementation. USR is not a member of the new body and analysts says the technology difference is clouding the merger with 3Com. Hewlett-Packard is backing USR?s technology, and it is one of the few USR advocates in the Forum.
Lucent Technologies? K56 implementation is similarly incompatible, but Lucent jumped into bed with Rockwell last year, resolving that problem. 56K Forum technology should ship by the end of the month and Motorola will launch four high-speed modems based on Rockwell and Lucent?s technology, costing $160 to $170, cheaper than USR?s family which is shipping now and goes from $199 to $275.
Establishing international standards will take at least another year, and until that happens, the standards issue is not a closed book.
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