The damaging battle between the two competing 56Kbps modem technologies is over.
The main comms vendors within the two warring camps - 3Com, Rockwell Semiconductor and Motorola - have agreed on a compromise standard.
At an industry summit in Florida, the vendors decided to support a compromise standard, which is expected to be ratified in January. This means users will be able to buy standard products far earlier than if the two camps waited for a specification to be set by the International Telecommuications Union, which could have taken another year.
Products adhering to the standard will begin shipping in the first quarter of 1998. Sources said the 56Kflex camp, led by Rockwell and Lucent Technologies, agreed to compromise with 3Com?s X2 technology because the battle was hampering sales for both sides, with buyers reluctant to commit to either technology.
John Magill, chairman of the International Telecommunications Union working party that negotiated the settlement, said the major problems separating the vendors have been solved although nothing is certain until the companies sign the accord in Geneva in January.
Sources at Rockwell claimed several issues have been settled in favour of 56KFlex but 3Com said it was pleased because the only winner was 56Kbps technology. Dale Walsh, senior vice president of advanced development at 3Com, said: "This compromise is not about any one technology or any one company winning." Walsh said a software upgrade is all that X2 users will need to adhere to the new standard and 3Com expects to ship modems based on the new standard soon after the Geneva summit ends in February.
Intel suggested the compromise - which calls for a standard using spectral shaping from Motorola and mapping techniques from 3Com - and 3Com voted in favour of both its suggestions, according to sources.
Analysts said modem and chipset vendors will be pleased because modem prices have dropped as both sides battle for control of the 56K market. 3Com claims over 100 Internet service providers use X2 in Europe and analysts said the market penetration of modems from US Robotics, 3Com?s modem business, means it is set to gain the most from the agreement.
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