Fresh from its merger deal with 3Com, US Robotics has shipped its delayed 56Kbps modem technology, X2. This will be available in USR's Total Control remote access servers, targeted particularly at Internet service providers (ISPs). But arch-rivals Lucent and Rockwell have already pipped USR to the post by shipping their alternative implementation, 56K, last month.
USR, which last year made aggressive claims that it would be first to market with 56Kbps technology, now says the time lag has not hurt its market prospects. Over 400 ISPs and online service providers are now supporting 56K and can upgrade their remote access servers with a software download. Some will offer the enhanced service to their customers as early as this month. However, US research figures suggest that over 60 per cent of US ISPs plan to use the Rockwell-Lucent technology, which many perceive as more open and making better headway on standards bodies.
Whichever product they choose, by upgrading their modems to 56Kbps, ISPs' customers can access the Internet and other services at nearly twice the speed of top end analogue modems. In a US survey of consumers conducted by Millward Brown, 62 per cent said they would switch to a new ISP in order to use 56Kbps facilities.
Casey Cowell, chief executive of USR, also expects rapid uptake of X2 in large corporations that use Total Control, and among computer manufacturers. The first deal with a PC vendor was announced yesterday with Packard Bell, which will incorporate X2 technology, built into chipsets from Texas Instruments, in its PCs and those branded by its sister company NEC. These models will ship in the second quarter of this year.
Corporations wishing to upgrade to X2, to boost remote employee access to their networks and the Internet, can also download the software. All USR modems and remote access servers now shipping are also software upgradable. Field testing of X2 with ISPs and resellers is now complete and USR will offer its channel a programme of training and marketing activities starting this month.
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