3Com waits on USR interface

3Com waits on USR interface

While it's now a fortnight since the boulder was tossed into the millpond, it will be at least another two months until the ripples lap at the shoreline.

Following customary US securities law, the announcement of the mer-ger of 3Com and US Robotics must now enter a "cooling off" period of 90 days before any announcements of restructures, re-evaluations or redundancies can be made.

Hence, there is no word on whether Westcon will lose the USR distribution (ironically recently gained by 3Com distributor Tech Pacific), nor official word on what products will be dropped.

One puzzle that may be solved is 3Com's position on 56Kbit/sec modem technology. Prior to the merger it joined the open 56K forum, announcing interoperability with Lucent and Rockwell designs.

But with the purchase of USR it found itself the proud owner of X2, a high-speed technology that is downloadable into USR modems now. It also falls outside of the standards the forum is striving for.

3Com's president for the Asia-Pacific region, Matthew Kapp, says there is plenty of reasoning behind the decision. "People want to feel comfortable that things are moving towards standards. The Open 56K forum is going to make that happen. 3Com has always been open in its approach to supporting multiple key standards.

"On the other hand, X2 is powerful technology here today. With X2 our customers will be able to download the code into their modems and use the 56K technology. So in its own right it's going to be a de facto which is used by many people in the marketplace, because it's way ahead of the market.

"The Open 56K forum technology will also come out, but a little bit later, and we will be actively supporting this technology on multiple platforms."

As for how the new organisation will look, no-one can say. What can be said is that things will definitely be different, with 3Com ANZA's managing director John Halliwell believing it will further the evolution of the business model 3Com has adopted over the last 12 months. "Where 12 to 18 months ago we were very reliant on our NIC and hub market to hold up our business, I think what we've seen was a move to become less of a point product company to a systems company."

What he feels the USR deal will do is give 3Com penetration into non-core marketplaces. "They're taking us into areas that we have no expertise in, places, for example, like retail. And they certainly have a great deal of expertise in the ISP part of the world, another business we haven't had a lot of penetration into.

"I think that it will augment what we're already doing today, on both sides of the business. It will be good for USR to have access to our distribution channels and the loyal 3Com resellers, and vice versa."

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