Vancouver, Washington-based accelerator card and modem company Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc has developed a new technology to double the speed of consumer modem internet access, which it claims is a more cost effective substitute for ISDN. Modem bonding uses two K56Kbps modems (using Rockwell International Inc’s K56Flex protocol) and two phone lines at the same time to double up the physical connection, and therefore the speed, of the link to an internet service provider to 112 kilobits-per- second. It’s done using software driver technology, named Shotgun, which Diamond developed in partnership with Ascend Communications Inc, which incorporates traffic management software. When network traffic exceeds the capacity of one modem, Shotgun opens a second line, and hangs up one modem connection when sensing an incoming or outgoing voice call. To make sure that internet service providers can support the modem bonding efforts, Diamond is working with Ascend, the Alameda, California- based remote access company that claims to have 73% market share of all ISP modem access ports worldwide. Diamond is supporting Ascend’s Multichannel protocol plus software, enabling modem calls to be bonded at the ISP’s remote access switch. The initial launch will be in the US, where a quarter of households, or 25 million, already have dual telephone lines installed, and is due to launch a one box system – a dual phone line modem – in the first quarter of next year. The company reckons that its technology will be a useful stop-gap for consumers that want high speed internet access, but don’t want to wait until the commercialization of other high speed consumer internet technologies such as Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line and cable modems, which it claims will be available at the very earliest by late 1998. At the moment Diamond has no plans to launch the technology in Europe, where ISDN takeup has advanced further. It remains to be seen whether or not ISPs will charge double the normal rate for tying up two rather than one port of their access switches.
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