The growing market for V32-compliant modems is resulting in a deluge of new models from manufacturers – Dataquest figures suggest that the European V32 market is growing at a rate of 20% per year. V32 is a modem standard, set by the international telephony body CCITT several years ago. It defines speed and modulation techniques. […]
The growing market for V32-compliant modems is resulting in a deluge of new models from manufacturers – Dataquest figures suggest that the European V32 market is growing at a rate of 20% per year. V32 is a modem standard, set by the international telephony body CCITT several years ago. It defines speed and modulation techniques. The data rate is 9,600bps – four times the speed of the previous V22bis standard of 2,400bps. Three vendors to announce products recently are Motorola Inc’s Codex, Dowty Group Plc, via Logitek Plc, and Dataflex Design Ltd. At around UKP500 for a basic model, Dataflex’s modem is almost half the price of Dowty’s and Motorola’s. So if the modems all comply to the same standard, what is there to differentiate them and explain huge price gaps? Dowty’s Julian Lobley says that after standards it’s down to features. These include security, data compression – which can speed up throughput considerably – error correction, reliability, auto-dialling and answering, and support. Motorola claims that for a price of tag of around UKP1,400 its 326X Series offers unrivalled performance. And it also offers V32bis conformance, the next standard up from V32, which runs at a synchronous speed of 14,400bps, if operating with another V32bis compatible modem. Features include password security, an 11-year mean time between failures guarantee and V42bis data compression. V42bis is the latest compression standard offered by the CCITT, and is included in Dataflex’s Rapier line, although not on the Dowty Trailblazer models marketed in the US by Telebit Corp. Data compression increases the data throughput rate – in theory by as much as four times by squeezing the data to be transmitted together. For example, in a text transmission recurring words are given a short code and spaces between words are eliminated. Trailblazer, which is being marketed by Logitek costs UKP1,400, does not offer V32bis compliance and uses MNP class 5 data compression rather than V42bis. MNP is de facto standard compression standard, and has a higher installed base than V42bis. However Philip Goddard of Motorola Codex says that use of the V42bis standard makes sense not only because of its standard status but because V42 does twice as good a job as MNP 5. Motorola has included MNP 5 as well as V42bis to ensure maximum compatibility. Dataflex’s V32 models also do V42bis, but not MNP 5. Although keen on standards, marketing manager of Dataflex, Philip Benge, says of the V32 market that it is cosy and over-priced – something the company is hoping to exploit with its cheaper offerings. Dataflex has taken advantage of Rockwell International Inc’s new modem chip set, to bring down the price of its V32. The chip set has been specially designed for the European market and therefore radically reduces the time and tasking it takes to get product approval, reducing cost and relieving manufacturers of the task of moulding modems for each market. The Rockwell set could see the price gap between V32s closing and V32 prices coming down altogether. Rockwell also provides a firmware kit to provide V42bis and MNP 5 data compression and error correction, meaning European vendors will no longer have to develop all their own firmware and the saving should be passed on. One thing on which the modem makers all agree is the slow take-up of ISDN, which could eventually put them out of business by offering direct digital connection to the public telephone network. Motorola’s European marketing manager Graham Patterson echoes all three when he maintains that ISDN poses little threat right now, I don’t have much confidence that ISDN will be a ubiquitous service in the short term, he declares.