US Robotics ships the first of its controversial x2 modems this month, although a tangle over rival designs is unlikely to be resolved for some time.
USR x2 modems will download from a compliant service provider at 56Kbps with a return path of 33.6 Kbps - the current maximum speed either way.
All major UK service providers except Demon support them.
However, most modem makers back a specification agreed by three huge players in the market - AT&T spin-off Lucent, Motorola, and Rockwell, which makes the chips for most of the world's modems, Their models are said to provide a return path of 40 Kbps. The first models are due to ship within weeks but no UK service has yet endorsed them.
The ITU standards body will discuss the issue next month but is unlikely to reach a conclusion for some time. USR claims its modems will be software-upgradable to any eventual standard, unlike early rival models.
USR's new Sportster Flash modem, at u229 inc VAT, will not ship with the new technology. That will be downloaded free from its site in the form of a software upgrade. Upgrades for earlier models will be offered but older
Sportsters cannot be upgraded. There are claims that x2 models will work only on perfect lines, and that users are better off with ISDN or waiting for cable modems.
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