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Re: my new ISP provider

> I have just switched from GNN (going out of business) to NETCOM. In the
> process I have also replaced my generic no-name 28.8 with a brand new
> USR 33.6 w/flash BIOS chip, upgradable to 56.7, when it becomes
> available (cost-only $60 after the rebate, that USR will be running till
> the 31 Mar). Those contemplating the move to USR hardware: run, not walk
> to your local CompUSA to get a USR No.1125 for $100 and a $40 rebate
> coupon from USR.

Augh...  if you want to read about Audis just delete this message.

Currently there are three proposed 56k technologies and none shipping.
There is the USR, the Lucent, and the Rockwell.  Lucent and Rockwell
have promised (but not yet demonstrated) that they will make theirs
interoperable.  USR is going proprietary on this.  Everyone is promising
to support the ITU standard when it's ready but that will be two years
or so.

Of course it also needs to be supported on the ISP end.  This is the
tricky part.  You need to have digital entrance facilities rather than
blocks and blocks of analog lines in order to support any of these
technologies, and the vendors of servers that will work with digital
entrance are, except for USR, all supporting the Lucent/Rockwell
(when that is one protocol) technology.  Exclusively.  Cisco, Ascend,
even Livingston.  The reason for this being that USR's license on their
X2[tm] protocol prohibits you from supporting the other.

What this boils down to is that to take a call using X2 (vs. 33.6 or
the Lucent/Rockwell K56Flex protocol) you must be using USR equipment
on both ends.  I have worked with the USR Total Control rack which would
be on the ISP end, and I was *not* impressed.

Basically, USR is doing all this to buy ISP market share.  They hope that
by being first to market and by marketing heavily, they can get enough
consumer demand to bludgeon their way to higher market share on that end.
It's very cynical.

Complicating all this is that the FCC has prohibited signals at
the level that would allow 56k, so they are all downgraded to 53k;
and that the stream is asymmetric 53k down and 28.8k up; and that you
don't get an improvement in latency, which affects the responsiveness
of the connection.  It will not be a doubling in speed.

In summary... it's not as simple as "run out and buy a Sportster".

I recommend that you buy a cheap 28.8 modem of any brand other than Zoom,
Zoltrix, or Prometheus, and wait until after the big 56k shootout to
see who's left standing.  Then upgrade.
[yeah, I worry about this all day.]