Standards for improving upload speeds for dial-up modem users, and allowing them to suspend their connection to answer incoming phone calls, have been approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The union said the new v.92 standards will improve upload speeds to 48Kbps with the best connections, enabling 40 per cent faster upload times. Upload speeds, even on 56Kbps branded modems - which are compatible with the ITU's v.90 standard - are usually only 24Kbps to 28Kbps.
The 56Kbps brand refers to the maximum possible theoretical download speed, while in reality the average user experiences download speeds around 45Kbps, depending on the quality of connection at both the network and user ends.
Conexant, a spin off from Rockwell Technologies, is testing the new systems and plans to have v.92 software available for its modems by the end of August in the US. The company is drawing up a list of potential internet service provider (ISP) partners for European tests later this summer, scheduled to be completed late September.
It is not clear, however, whether all ISPs will adopt the new standards.
Tim Snape, managing director at West Dorset Internet and an ISP Association council member, told vnunet.com: "ISPs will wait and see what consumers do. If enough request this technology then obviously we'll be driven by market forces."
While acknowledging that improving speeds will help sales, modem manufacturers say the modem-on-hold technology, also approved at the meeting, is the real boon for home users.
Mourad Bedrani, European PC OEM sales manager at Conexant, told vnunet.com: "We have a lot of pent-up demand for modems with this facility."
He expects ISPs to eventually come round to the idea, however. "I don't see ISPs looking to lower the acceptance of the standard," he said.
Download speeds for web pages will also be helped by v.44, a new HTML-specific data compression technique, which was given initial approval at the meeting.
Modem manufacturers are facing the prospect of increased competition from much quicker, but more costly, broadband technologies such as telephone line based Digital Subscriber Line and cable modems, although it is thought that it will be many years before these are adopted by home users.
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