Rockwell chip snag delays 56k modem release

Rockwell is playing down the importance of a glitch in one of its chipsets which will lead to a one- to two-week delay in the delivery of some high-speed analog modems. The company says the chips, used by manufacturing partners to make 56Kbit/s modems, will have to be retuned after field tests revealed they do not perform at top speed through certain telephone networks. The company declined to specify which networks caused the problem.

Rockwell is playing down the importance of a glitch in one of its chipsets which will lead to a one- to two-week delay in the delivery of some high-speed analog modems.

The company says the chips, used by manufacturing partners to make 56Kbit/s modems, will have to be retuned after field tests revealed they do not perform at top speed through certain telephone networks. The company declined to specify which networks caused the problem.

Motorola's Information Systems Group began shipping ModemSurfr and VoiceSurfr 56K modems containing the chipsets two weeks ago. On Friday it said it was halting production of those modems until the problem is rectified, and offered to replace units for about 3000 affected customers. Two other companies also have begun shipping modems containing the chips, although Rockwell declined to name those companies today.

The glitch reduces the performance of the modems by 10-15%, Rockwell spokeswoman Eileen Algaze says, and affects only client-side modems used by individuals with their PCs. Central-site modem chips, which are deployed by Internet service providers (ISP), will ship on schedule at the end of the month, she says.

Officials say the problem will not give an edge to competitor US Robotics, which is pushing for market acceptance of a 56K modem based on its own, incompatible technology, called x2.

"It's the central-site modems that are important, because they determine when the ISPs are turned on," Algaze said. "They will ship on time, and our client modems will be ready to ship with them."

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