Start-up offers 67.2Kbps modems

Transcend, a start-up subsidiary of giant Porto Alegre, Brazil-based modem maker Digitel, plans to publicly launch itself and simultaneously ship what experts say is the industry's first 67.2Kbps analogue modem. This and other high-speed modems should appeal to Internet service providers (ISPs) and corporate sites that have been slow to adopt digital remote-access technologies such as ISDN or Digital Subscriber Line because of high costs and limited access.

Transcend, a start-up subsidiary of giant Porto Alegre, Brazil-based modem maker Digitel, plans to publicly launch itself and simultaneously ship what experts say is the industry's first 67.2Kbps analogue modem.

This and other high-speed modems should appeal to Internet service providers (ISPs) and corporate sites that have been slow to adopt digital remote-access technologies such as ISDN or Digital Subscriber Line because of high costs and limited access.

"The problem is, to set up corporate clients with anything above a POTS [plain old telephone service] analogue line gets expensive quickly," says Gary McKinney, vice-president of MegaBits Computers, an ISP in Florida.

For instance, in McKinney's service area, a 64Kbps dedicated data link costs $US665 to install and $US294 per month. However, a business phone line costs only about $US37 per month and is comparatively easy to get, McKinney said.

Transcend hopes to cash in on the fact that most remote users still connect to the Internet and corporate networks over analogue phone lines despite rapid advancements in digital modem technologies.

"We are still an analogue nation. We weren't bombed in World War II, so we still have the same network that Alexander Graham Bell designed for us," says Tom Bradford, president of Transcend. Sixty Seven plugs into any computer or server's serial port and is protocol-independent, so it can drive any application, adds Bradford.

The Transcend modem, called Sixty Seven, reaches 67.2Kbps by sending 33.6Kbps transmissions over two phone lines concurrently. The modem is related in concept to small routers coming later this year from US Robotics and Ramp Networks. However, those routers use inverse multiplexing to bond two analogue modems in a router chassis; Sixty Seven combines channels at the chip level. "As a result you see improved throughput and reliability," says Kieren Taylor, an analyst at TeleChoice.

In contrast to 56Kbps analogue modems, Sixty Seven reaches its high speeds in both upstream and downstream directions, and it does not require any digital termination. 56Kbps modems only hit top speeds in the downstream direction and only when the transmissions begin as digital signals, adds Taylor.

Despite the potential appeal of Sixty Seven, Transcend faces an uphill battle introducing a proprietary new modem into a commodity market dominated by big-name players. To address this issue, the company plans to license its technology to other modem makers and will submit its technology for approval to standards-making bodies.

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