Is Dial-Up Dead? – Technology Information

Mark Kakkuri

AFFORDABLE CABLE MODEM AND DSL SERVICE IS BECOMING UBIQUITOUS. Market leader 3Com has sold its dial-up modem business to focus on broadband modems and Internet appliances. Two signs that the analog modem’s days are numbered? Not so fast. Research conducted by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter predicts that even by 2009, the 61 million Internet users who use dial-up modems will outnumber the 31 million and 29 million connecting via digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable, respectively.

“There will always be a dial-up market” says Fritz McCormick, an analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group. According to McCormick, of the 39 million households online now, fully 38 million use traditional modems–and “most households new to the Internet will use dial-up initially, [unable to] justify a more expensive broadband connection.”

What’s more, analog modem technology keeps improving. By year’s end, today’s V.90 modems should yield to newer V.92 designs which include Internet call waiting, so you can suspend an online session temporarily to take a voice call.

The V.92 specification also calls for higher upstream data transfers–from 38Kbps to 44Kbps–and a faster handshake (the beeps and chirps indicating your computer is connecting to another) at the onset of a session. “V.92 forces a healthy rush to the dial-up technology,” says Frank Manning, CEO of Boston-based modem manufacturer Zoom Telephonics.

Also in the works, says Manning, is another specification called V.44 driven by the international modem and Internet service provider industries–incorporating a new compression scheme that speeds Web-page downloads.

But what’s keeping DSL and cable modems from overtaking the much slower analog variety? PC manufacturers, claims McCormick: “They’re still waiting to determine which broadband hardware they’ll install in their machines, and where–and this leaves dial-up as an important component.” Also, McCormick adds, existing high-speed devices “need to be much easier to set up and run”

ISDN: Still Alive If none of the above options suits your home office, consider the still viable 128Kbps Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) service. According to Peter Geier, president of the nonprofit, San Ramon, Calif.-based Access Technologies Forum, ISDN is available in 96 percent of the country. GTE and BellSouth, for example, offer ISDN in all of their territories.

Long bashed for its relatively high cost and difficult configuration, Geier argues that ISDN is actually getting cheaper and closer to plug-and-play installation. Moreover, he adds, “ISDN can handle voice phone, fax, Internet, and video on one line, with any two of these services occurring simultaneously.” And while setup and monthly fees vary, Geier says a good ISDN deal costs less than two analog lines.

COPYRIGHT 2000 CURTCO Freedom Communications

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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