The V.90 standard for 56-Kbps modems gets union's approval

The International Telecommunications Union this month gave final approval to the V.90
standard for 56-Kbps modems.

The union began developing the standard early last year. It supersedes competing modem
vendors’ K56flex and x2 technologies. To date, more than 800 Internet service
providers have installed V.90 connectivity on about 40,000 local dial-up numbers.

All 56-Kbps modems exploit the digital circuits in public switched telephone networks
to receive a theoretical maximum of 56 Kbps and to send about 33 Kbps upstream.

Federal Communications Commission restrictions in the United States effectively limit
the download rate to 53 Kbps, however. Connection speeds vary depending on line conditions
and the number of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog signal conversions.

But FCC may soon do away with the speed limitations. One of the main goals is to boost
Internet transmission and download speeds, according to FCC.

“We’re considering increasing the signal power limits so that 56-Kbps modems
can operate at their full potential,” said Anna Gomez, acting chief of FCC’s
Network Services Division Common Carrier Bureau.

The commission this week will issue its proposal for public comment. Commission
officials think FCC can relax the signal power limitations without causing interference or
other technical problems on public networks, Gomez said.

The Information Technology Association of America in Arlington, Va., said its members
back the idea of lifting the throughput limit.

“We absolutely support any attempt to increase data sent over the Internet,”
said Mark Uncapher, vice president of ITAA’s information service and electronic
commerce division.

The public will have a month to submit comments to the commission. After it reviews the
comments, FCC will issue a report on whether to remove or keep the limit, Gomez said.

“If we determine it could do harm to the network, we could file a modification to
the proposal or eliminate it,” she said.

The proposal could pave the way for the implementation of broadband technologies,
Uncapher said.

Broadband technologies provide new ways to transmit digital signals over copper cable
at faster rates.  

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