56K modem standard agreed but confusion continues

In a mammoth late-night session yesterday, the ITU group charged with standardising 56K modems finished all the technical work and a line-by-line read through of the draft V.pcm specification.

In a mammoth late-night session yesterday, the ITU group charged with standardising 56K modems finished all the technical work and a line-by-line read through of the draft V.pcm specification. A draft standard is now expected to be complete by the meeting's end on February 6.

The Geneva, Switzerland meeting of Study Group 16 was described as "being on a high after having completed the work" by a member of the group, who also said that "it's some sort of a record for the ITU to achieve this [modem standard] in such a short time".

However, at least two companies represented in the Study Group were behaving in odd ways. 3Com had already published a four-page advertisement for its US Robotics 'ITU standard 56K modem' in US magazines before the standard was finalised, and claimed, curiously, that their's was the first such modem in existence.

Meanwhile, Rockwell, the leading manufacturer of modem chipsets, has gone on record as saying that it won't be doing any interoperability testing between its modems and those of other manufacturers. In fact, the company claims that its V.pcm modems will only talk to 3Com's at 33.6Kbps, the same speed as currently achievable using older standards.

This has caused widespread confusion in the Study Group, where, according to a source "nobody here can understand this. It could easily backfire; Rockwell, Lucent and 3Com are not the only V.pcm implementers."