Originally created 02/07/98

Faster modems



GENEVA -- An international group has agreed on a standard for a faster modem that will nearly double the speed at which many people can log onto the Internet.

The new modems transmit data across ordinary phone lines between computers at 56,000 bits of information per second, or 56K in computer jargon. Manufacturers already produce modems that operate at that speed, but used two competing standards that prevent their products from working with each other.

The international standard was approved in Geneva Thursday by the International Telecommunications Union. It replaces the current fastest standard for modems in common use over phone lines, the telecommunications union announced Friday. They operate at 33,600 bits per second.

Manufacturers have said they will quickly adopt the new standard. The union said the agreement is expected to boost modem sales significantly, to 75 million a year by the year 2000 from 50 million last year.

The stock of 3Com Corp., a major modem maker, edged up 18 3/4 cents to $32.87 1/2 on the Nasdaq Stock Market after falling sharply Thursday. Analysts have raised questions about a glut of existing 3Com high-speed modems as the company begins shipping new products that meet the new standard.

Stock in Rockwell International Corp., the other major modem company, rose 3.5 percent on Friday, or $2 to $59.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. Rockwell makes computer chips for other makers of modems.