USR offers free upgrades to lure users, ISPs to 56K modems

In an effort to jump-start the market for its 56Kbit/s modems, US Robotics (USR) has revealed a number of buyer incentive programs including guaranteeing end-users and Internet service providers (ISPs) a free upgrade of USR's x2 technology to a forthcoming standard.

In an effort to jump-start the market for its 56Kbit/s modems, US Robotics (USR) has revealed a number of buyer incentive programs including guaranteeing end-users and Internet service providers (ISPs) a free upgrade of USR's x2 technology to a forthcoming standard.

In addition to the upgrade path, USR is offering a month of free Internet access, as much as $US25, which users can redeem through a coupon program. And lastly, the company is providing an unconditional, 30-day money-back return policy on its modems.

"We feel we can be aggressive in the marketplace, while at the same time the standards process is moving along rapidly," says Casey Cowell, chairman and CEO of USR, which recently merged with networking powerhouse 3Com.

Cowell says a draft standard specification for 56Kbit/s modems will be ready possibly as early as September. The standard is being developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

USR is hoping that the free upgrade to the ITU standard will entice users and ISPs to commit to buying x2 technology now, Cowell says. USR is currently in a head-to-head battle over 56Kbit/s modem technology with Rockwell International, which has developed a competing, and x2-incompatible standard, K56Flex.

Cowell says 350 live ISPs currently are running ports with x2 technology, and another 700 are committed to deploying it. The company does not keep figures on the number of end-users with 56Kbit/s modems on the client side, he adds.

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