Lucent and 3Com end 56K modem feud

Lucent Technologies and 3Com have announced that they will work together to ensure interoperability between their 56Kbit/s modem products, ending a long-standing dispute that has dogged the high-speed analog technology since last year. Until now Lucent has urged users to adopt its K56flex technology, while 3Com has been promoting x2, and the protocols do not interoperate. This week's agreement to develop compatible products will make purchasing decisions easier for consumers, who will no longer have to worry about whether they are using the same technology as their Internet service provider. The companies will use an emerging industry standard referred to as V.pcm.

Lucent Technologies Inc. and 3Com have announced that they will work together to ensure interoperability between their 56,000 bit per second (56Kbit/s) modem products, ending a long-standing dispute that has dogged the high-speed analog technology since last year.

Until now Lucent has urged users to adopt its K56flex technology, while 3Com has been promoting x2, and the protocols do not interoperate. Today's agreement to develop compatible products will make purchasing decisions easier for consumers, who will no longer have to worry about whether they are using the same technology as their Internet service provider.

The companies will use an emerging industry standard referred to as V.pcm, the companies said in a statement. V.pcm was proposed in December by an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) working group, and is expected to be approved at a plenary meeting of the ITU in Geneva Feb. 5 and 6, the companies said.

"Neither 3Com nor Lucent wanted to give up its proprietary technology ... but now we know what V.pcm is going to look like, it makes sense to do so," said Lucent spokesman Mike Jacobs.

Both 3Com and Lucent expect to have interoperable products on the market shortly after the ITU's February meeting, as well as software upgrades to make existing K56flex and x2 modems compliant with the new standard, the statement said.

Lucent makes the chipsets that go into 56K modems and not the modems themselves, and could not say whether the upgrades will be free or not. "That will be up to the modem makers, but I can tell you that everything out there containing K56flex is software upgradeable," Jacobs said.

3Com could not immediately be reached for comment.

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