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PC World

Fast surfing from an armchair

June 26, 1999
Web posted at: 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT)

by Peggy King

(IDG) -- Web access from the home should soon get faster and easier, judging from a selection of products and services unveiled at the Digital Living Room Conference in Dana Point, California this week.

You'll be able to log on easily using devices like the new version of the iPhone Series 2000 phone, manufactured by Tatung and unveiled by distributor InfoGear. This duplex speakerphone has been redesigned to include a more readable, tilted touch screen that you activate with a stylus. Below the telephone keypad is a laptop-size keyboard for composing e-mail and typing URLs. Integrated features include an answering machine and an internal 56-kilobits-per-second modem.

The phone is priced at $299, and Big Planet is currently the only distributor in the United States, says Dennis Hsu, InfoGear's vice president of marketing. Sales via the Web and through dealer channels in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia are expected by year-end.

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Bigger Internet pipes will soon enter some living rooms in Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver. This fall, residential customers in these cities will be able to subscribe to Sprint's broadband Integrated On-Demand Network (ION) service at a cost estimated at between $100 and $150 per month. This flat-rate service includes a fixed number of local and long-distance calls, plus Internet access. Sprint ION subscribers can also use the service for faster access to their existing videoconferencing, remote learning, and interactive gaming applications.

Sprint ION broadband service lets customers conduct up to four voice calls over a single connection simultaneously. Subscribers with Sprintís software on their PCs can change their telephone configurations on the fly to add or remove phone lines, and adjust telephone features such as voice mail, call waiting, and call forwarding.

"Once consumers begin using broad band, they will become much more demanding, and their expectations will rise exponentially," says Ken Lauer, president of Sprint Consumer Services Group during his presentation at Digital Living Room.

By next month, do-it-yourselfers in Chicago, Toronto, and Ottawa who have ordered Digital Subscriber Line service for fast Internet access will be able to get connected without waiting for a visit from a service representative. Telocity has introduced InterChange 1000, a user-friendly DSL installation appliance that connects to PCs via USB, Ethernet (10BaseT), or parallel ports for easy DSL setup.

Telocity plans to sell InterChange 1000 for $99 from its Web site. It charges $49 per month for DSL gateway services, transmitting data at a rate of up to 1 megabit per second downstream and 384 kbps upstream.

"Do-it-yourself DSL installation will save consumers from having to wait for installation. But it's possible that the installation appliance won't support all makes and models of PCs. The help line needs to be able to support consumers who have configuration questions," says Tricia Parks, president of Parks Associates, a Dallas-based research firm that studies emerging technologies for the home. According to Dean Tucker, vice president of sales and marketing, Telocity has a telephone help line for consumers doing their own installations.

Opinion: What life with a cable modem is really like
April 30, 1999
CeBIT to focus on handhelds, Net connectivity
March 8, 1999
DSL has a secret
March 2, 1999
Opinion: Dispelling those bandwidth myths
February 8, 1999
Mobile workers will stick with modems
November 11, 1998

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