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Q&A (2): Dennis Hayes on 56K modems and the future

Continues from previous storyWhat's Hayes's role in the 56kbps modem movement?

We began shipping Monday the first 56K PC Card products. It was just a few hundred products but we will ramp in April and will ramp up throughout the world after that. We've had standard 56K modems for a month and we hope to have 56K products in Europe next month.

You're not worried by the absence of a common standard or the performance issues in early chipsets?

Fortunately, the chipsets are software upgradable and as we gain experience in the field and fine-tune the code we'll make it more robust and get higher performance. Although it's not highly polished we're already getting 45kbps which is a significant increase over 33.6kbps, and sometimes you can get into the low 50's.

The technologies are running neck and neck in terms of overall performance. Based on last week's meeting in Geneva we think a stable draft proposal for a standard is possible for September and a full standard could be in place by January. That's an aggressive schedule and something could go wrong but we're hoping.

After its time in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection has Hayes regained the confidence of customers and the industry?

We're well on course to doing that. We now have a management team in place to grow and be a very successful company. New areas such as cable and ADSL have the promise of making the Internet fly and enabling great content incorporating video and sound ... we're very excited about what we can do with those technologies. Every time there's a major discovery such as moving from 56kbps to 5/6Mbps it creates a tremendous opportunity.

What are the lessons you have learnt in the travails of the last two years?

Two things. One is to have the best team and the second is never run out of cash. In terms of the management team we're very happy to have Joe Formichelli as president and CEO. Even though he comes from IBM he doesn't seem like IBM! I'm having more fun spending less time on day-to-day operations and more on things like the Cardinal purchase.