Sirius fast tracks 56K modem line

Next stop on the modem train is digital technology, and smart modems are further down the track, Sirius officials told ARN last week. The current stop is at dual-mode K56flex and V.90 modems, the first of which comes from NetComm which is part of the Sirius Technology camp.

Sirius' business strategy manager, Cam Wayland, said the new modem would be available before Easter.

The NetComm Roadster II 56 Ultra is one of the first 56Kbps modems based on the new ITU V.90 standard.

Wayland said the dual modes allowed users to use both V.90 and K56flex connections from the same modem.

Of the available 56K modem technologies (K65flex and x2), K56flex is by far the more popular of the two. Wayland said 80 per cent of Australian ISPs supported K56flex, while only "a dozen" ISPs support the x2 technology.

"There will be a transition phase as Australian ISPs upgrade their equipment to V.90, and to protect customers we have developed a dual-mode product to be used with either V.90 or K56flex connections," Wayland said.

In addition to the Roadster II, NetComm will also make a free online V.90 software upgrade for current 56K Roadster modem users available at the same time. The modem will have support for sending to 33.6 faxes.

The new modem's Rockwell chip finds the fastest connections from the full range of possible modem speeds, including V.90 and K56flex.

Wayland said an OEM product will be up to negotiation for the manufacturers.

The V.90 draft standard was announced in February and is expected to be ratified in September. The standard solves the problem of incompatible 56K technologies and allows products, based on the two competing solutions (Rockwell's K56flex and 3Com's x2), to communicate.

The NetComm Roadster II 56 Ultra is expected to retail at $299.


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