ITU puts off decision on 56K modems until 1998

A standards committee at the International Telecommunicatoins Union (ITU) was not able to agree on a proposed standard for 56Kbit/s modem technologies at a meeting in Geneva last week, and so does not expect to have a proposed standard until next year. The ITU's 56K group had intended to agree on a proposed standard that would then be voted on in a January meeting. But instead, the proposal is now expected to be set at a January meeting with a final vote set for September next year.

A standards committee at the International Telecommunicatoins Union (ITU) was not able to agree on a proposed standard for 56Kbit/s modem technologies at a meeting in Geneva last week, and so does not expect to have a proposed standard until next year.

The ITU's 56K group had intended to agree on a proposed standard that would then be voted on in a January meeting. But instead, the proposal is now expected to be set at a January meeting with a final vote set for September next year.

An industry standard for 56K modems is needed settle the clash between the K56flex standard for modems developed by Lucent, Rockwell and Motorola and the x2 standard developed by US Robotics, now part of 3Com.

"We started the approval process in March this year," said John Magill, a UK-based consultant for Lucent and chairman of the working committee that is setting the modem standard. "The technical details were not complete in time for last week's meeting."

"The technical work will continue with the aim of starting the approval process in January," Magill added, explaining that this means an official ITU specification for the modems will not be available until September.

Modem vendors, however, may move more quickly.

"If we can get the technical agreement in place by January, I would expect companies would adopt the standard and being selling modems before the final approval," Magill said. Lucent, for example, expects to build modem chips as soon as possible.

"Lucent is a very active participant in the committee and will be among the first to build chips for the new standard when it emerges," Magill said.

More information about the ITU can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.itu.int/.

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