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V.90 modems: As fast as it's going to get

July 30, 1998
Web posted at: 4:25 PM EDT

by Glenn McDonald

(IDG) -- A proposal to boost the upload speeds of V.90 modems has died, apparently due to poor modem sales and the indifference of manufacturers.

Current V.90 modems are limited to 33.6-kbps upstream speeds. But Lucent has developed a way to enable nearly symmetrical data rates, with upload speeds approaching 45 kbps.

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More than a year ago, Lucent proposed that its technology become part of the International Telecommunications V.90 standard, which will be ratified in September. But according to Les Brown, a Motorola engineer and rapporteur for the ITU study group on 56-kbps modems, Lucent's proposal never made it into the spec, and the company hasn't pushed to have it added to the second revision of the V.90 spec, to be released next year.

On Thursday, the ITU's 56K study group will meet in Quebec City to finalize the V.90 spec before it goes to the vote in September. Lucent spokesperson Charlie Hartley said the company still thinks the technology is promising, but Lucent won't bring a formal proposal to the meeting.

Analysts say that since most modem users are Web surfers, the industry doesn't see the 33-percent upstream speed increase Lucent offers as worth the trouble. Many modem companies are now turning their attention to building DSL products rather than enhancing their analog modems. Lucent says it has no plans currently to develop the technology as a proprietary standard.

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