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Agreement reached on 56K Modem standard

Geneva, 6 February 1998 — The International Telecommunication Union agreed today on the technical specifications for PCM modems (also known as 56K modems) and has initiated the formal approval process.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, coordinates global communications standards. Study Group 16 of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) where the work on the modem standard was carried out, drives the development of standards for multimedia systems.

The new Recommendation, designated V.90, is expected to be widely used for applications such as Internet and on-line service access. V.90 modems are designed for connections which are digital at one end and have only one digital-to-analogue conversion. Download speeds of up to 56,000 bits per second (bit/s) are possible, depending on telephone line conditions, with upload speeds of up to 33,600 bit/s. Manufacturers currently producing modems based on proprietary schemes have already stated they will rapidly migrate to the new standard.

According to industry analysts, the ITU agreement will boost modem sales significantly. VisionQuest 2000, a market researcher, estimates the number of modems shipped each year likely will rise to 75 million by the year 2000 from 50 million in 1997.

Work began on the development of V.90 (previously referred to as V.pcm) in the ITU-T in March 1997. "This is the shortest period of time ever taken for an ITU-T modem Recommendation to achieve ‘determination’ approval status, and demonstrates a commitment by the ITU-T to respond quickly to urgent market needs", said Mr. P.-A. Probst, Chairman of Study Group 16.

The V.90 modem harmonizes the two competing proposals submitted last year. Customers who have purchased 56kbps modems based on either technology may be able to get software to make their devices compatible with the new ones developed on the V.90 standard.

Note to Editors:
The Study Group has agreed to apply the approval procedure under which the draft text is circulated to all ITU-T members to determine whether the Study Group is to be assigned the authority to give it final approval ("decision") at its next meeting. After unanimous approval by the Study Group, the standard takes effect. For the V.90 draft standard, the "decision" step is scheduled for September 1998.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Les Brown Mr. John Magill Pierre-Andre Probst
Rapporteur for PCM Modems Chairman, Working Party 1/16 Chairman, Study Group 16
tel: +1 905 507 7361 tel: +44 1666 51 01 05 Tel: +41 22 797 7700
E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:

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