56Kbits/sec modems are imminent but lingering doubts over standards, performance and bugs mean that not everybody is joining in the gold rush.
"Psion Dacom doesn't plan to release 56K products anytime soon," said Dave Curl, marketing manager for the firm. "There's an awful risk of confusion for buyers. There won't be a ratified standard until next year and there won't be an interim standard until June or July. People have been pushing out versions of technology but when it all comes down to it, standards are where investment protection comes in for corporates.
"The confusion for Joe Soap is even worse. The whole modem industry is saying 'We've got 56K', forgetting there may not be anybody to connect to."
Guy Tweedale, marketing manager for the PC Card division of TDK, said that take-up of 56Kbits/sec modems may be slower than expected. "The growing success of ISDN in Europe could kill it stone dead.
In France, ISDN gets installed as standard for the telephone line; in Germany you get an ISDN line with an analogue box at the end of it. For me, 56K is primarily going to be a consumer Internet thing."