Analog modems still common despite cable, DSL deployments

Feb. 25, 2001



With the advances in broadband Internet connections, the dial-up Internet connection is dead.

Or that's the message the hype would have you believe. But like the death of writer Mark Twain, the death of the dial-up Internet connection has been grossly exaggerated.

Cable modem connections and Digital Subscriber Line is great; however, most people still access the Web using a dial-up connection.

Companies that manufacture modems haven't overlooked this fact, either.

A new standard for dial-up modems was approved last year, and U.S. Robotics recently completed tests of modems based on the new V.92 standard.

Modems based on the new standard promise faster uploads of data, the ability to put a data connection "on hold" to accept a voice call, and faster upload speeds.

Further refinement of dial-up modems makes sense. A recently released study predicts that while DSL and cable Internet access will continue to make headlines, more than half of all U.S. computer users -- 55 percent -- will still be using dial-up access through 2004.

The reason is simple: Dial-up modems are fairly foolproof, and there are more homes in the U.S. served by telephones than have potential access to either cable or DSL Internet access.

"The horse hasn't made it to the glue factory just yet," said Kevin Lacey, a director of product development at U.S. Robotics, a manufacturer of analog modems.

If you own a U.S. Robotics V.90 modem, you're eligible for a free software upgrade to the new V.92 standard. Check the U.S. Robotics Web site for details.

The new modems will be appearing in new PCs and on store shelves within the next 90 days.

Before you considering buying a new modem, check with your Internet provider to see if the company plans to upgrade its modems to the new V.92 standard as well.

SUPRISE PACKAGE. The United Parcel Service delivered a surprise to thousands of its customer recently when it sent out the latest version of its shipping software.

After customers installed the new WorldShip system software, they discovered their Web browsers automatically were loading the UPS Web site as their home page. Installing the program also added several UPS-related bookmarks to the customer's bookmark list.

Customers weren't told of the changes during the installation, and a chorus of complaints has been coming in from customers about the stealthy move.

UPS officials admitted it was a mistake to make the changes without giving customers a chance to opt out of them, and the company is offering to help its customers either uninstall the software or fix any changes the software made the customer doesn't want.

A newer version of the WorldShip software will be distributed in coming weeks will give users the option of not making the home page and other browser-related changes.

FILTER OR SNOOP? A major Internet filtering company announced it would stop collecting and selling the data it has been collecting about the Web-surfing habits of millions of schoolchildren.

N2H2, the company that provides the popular "Bess" Internet filtering software, will end its practice of selling "Class Clicks" -- lists of the Web sites kids visit, and details of how much time they spend online.

14 million students in the United States use the Bess filter. Forty percent of the schools that use Internet filtering use Bess.

N2H2 signed a deal with a marketing company to provide the statistics. Ironically, the Department of Defense was interested in using the information in its recruiting efforts, and in determining how students viewed military Web sites.

Privacy groups complained about the plan, and the DoD scrapped the idea.

The Bess Internet filter is popular, and offered as a free service for users of the Bardstown cable Internet service.

For more information on Bess, visit

PEER PRESSURE. With a legal victory in hand against Napster, the recording industry isn't standing still.

MP3 devotees are looking for other services to swap music files if Napster is finally shut down, and there are several out there.

Unfortunately, the recording industry is looking for them too.

In fact, the Recording Industry Association of America, the main trade group that represents record labels, sent more than 60 legal notices to Internet service providers who provide the Net connections for Open Napster servers.

Open Napster servers are accessible with the use of software like Napigator and others available for free download on the Web.

With its legal victory against Napster, the recording industry is moving forward to strike out against free file sharing Napster-like sites as they develop.

Napster proposed a $1 billion settlement to coax record labels to end their copyright infringement lawsuits. The industry would get $200 million a year, split among the labels.

Industry officials said the proposal wasn't acceptable, especially since they are moving ahead with their own online plans that don't include Napster.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to, or visit on the World Wide Web.

| HOME |