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When one modem won't do, try four

Multi-Tech device lets you attach multiple modems via USB.

November 19, 1998
Web posted at: 12:49 PM PT

by Randy Ross

(IDG) -- LAS VEGAS -- Multi-Tech Systems expects to ship in December the MT4X56USB, the first device to bundle four V.90 modems into a single unit that can be attached to a PC or server via a universal serial bus connection.

Attached to a network server running Windows 98 or Windows NT, the MT4X56USB can provide remote access. Because the device can manage four phone lines, four users can connect to the server at once. Typically, such a setup would be adequate for about 20 remote users since not all users are connected at once, Kraska said.
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In addition to letting remote users dial in, the device allows on-site users to dial out, which saves money on modems and should mean fewer support headaches.

Building a dial-up data pipeline

Alternatively, the MT4X56USB can be used to combine four phone lines into a single data pipeline that can deliver performance of about 160 kbps, Kraska said. This could provide a high-speed option for individuals who can't get ISDN, cable, or Digital Subscriber Line service.

However, this approach has some limitations. First, you must order and pay for four separate phone lines and the numbers you dial into must also have four phone lines. So, if you want 160-kbps access to your office, your office must have at least four lines.

Second, your ISP must support a technology called Multilink PPP, which allows multiple modems to be bonded. Currently, few ISPs offer this service, though Kraska said he expects the number to increase next year.

The USB connection should make the product easy to install, and Multi-Tech expects to include a software utility that assists with setup and configuration. The company had not announced a price for the modem at press time.

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