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V90 modem vs. 56K modem (Sportster)

Posted on 1998-07-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I see a lot of questions here about V90 modems.  I am buying
a new system that comes with a 56K modem, which I am
familiar with.  The salesperson is trying to sell me a V90.
It seems from the questions here that a lot of people are
having problems with the V90.  From the small amount of
info I have read about it, it seems that the V90 is a bit
too sophisticated for most purposes as yet, ie. lots of sites,
etc. have not updated themselves, therefore you would
have a hard time connecting with one until most sites have
them also.

Is this correct?  Is it a bit too early to get one of these?
Should I stick with the 56K?  The salesperson says it will
cost about $100 to install if I wait -- they're offering it
for about $30.00 installed.  He also tells me this is a hard-
ware difference, not a software one, so does that mean that
he's telling me that I can't just get a CD ROM to update, that
I will instead need to install the hardware, ie. open the CPU?

I am mainly planning to design web pages with the new system.
Do I need one of these?  Does it pay to get it now?  I don't
want any frustrating problems to arise because the V90 is
"too new" to work with right now.


Question by:Barbara321
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LVL 12

Accepted Solution

Otta earned 200 total points
ID: 1147039
My USR Internal V.90 Sportster works fine.
It "negotiates" to see if the ISP's server
offers X2 or V.90 services, and adjusts correctly,
i.e., when connecting to an X2 server, it uses the X2 protocol,
and when connecting to a USR V.90 server, it uses the V.90 protocol.
For me, it was a free upgrade from X2 to V.90;
don't let yourself be talked into "paying" extra.

P.S. A brand-new Cardinal Connecta X2 internal modem,
which is hardware-identical to a USR Sportster,
is available for about $50, after a mail-in rebate,
and it has a free (software -- no touching the hardware)
upgrade from X2 to V.90.

Expert Comment

ID: 1147040
The problem is that the v.90 standard is not a standard as of yet, it is expected to be finalized shortly by the itu (international telephone union) I think I got that right, The itu is responsible for all v. standards.  All 56k modems come 1 of 2 ways they are x2 or k56 flex, most of the newest modems have v.90 code in them but they will require a flash of there memory to meet the full standard when it becomes available later this year.  I would not buy a modem unless it offered a flash memory.  You can then get the 56k modem today and flash it tomorrow to bring him up to v.90 standard.  X2 is the most widely used standard,  Now x2 and flex 56k are not compatible with one another, this is where v.90 comes in to close the gap and make both standards interoperate with each other.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 1147041
WAYNEB, please see http://WWW.56K.COM

or the specific page at:

which states:

| There is now (February 1998) an ITU 56K modem standard,
| called V.90, but it will take some time before Internet Service Providers
| upgrade their equipment to support V.90.
| This situation may last until summer of 1998.
| Until then, you will need to use the same 56K technology
| your ISP uses: either K56flex or X2.

So, given that summer is here (the days are already getting shorter!),
there is no reason to avoid V.90 technology.
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Author Comment

ID: 1147042
Thanks for the feedback!  I want to ask:  the salesperson is
telling me I can get the 56K (included in the system) or a V90, which
costs more.  If I get the 56K, do I automatically get a FREE
upgrade from U.S. Robotics in order to have a functioning V90?
In other words, NO hardware needs to be touched?  Because this
is what the salesperson told me, that this would be a hardware
option and not a software one.  If it is indeed strictly a
software change that can upgrade my 56K into a V90, then this guy
must be trying to sell me something that I shouldn't be paying
for, since I am going to get it free from U.S. Robotics, right?

Thanks again,

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 1147043
> If I get the 56K, do I automatically get a FREE updgrade
> from U.S. Robotics in order to have a functioning V90?

Their web-site states this.

I'm curious as to why the retailer cannot *NOW*
provide you with a USR V.90 modem ???

In fact, the Modem Upgrade Wizard for the Cardinal Connecta X2 modem
(they licensed the X2 technology from USR)
displayed 'US Robotics Modem Upgrade Wizard'
in the "title-bar", when it was doing the V.90 upgrade.
Given the identical hardware on the Cardinal and the USR Sportster,
it will be a software-only update to your modem.

> Because this is what the salesperson told me,
> that this would be a hardware option and not a software one.

US Robotics has made *MANY* modems.
Thus, there are several possible "upgrade-paths",
depending on the serial-number of the modem.

USR's web-site has a "wizard" to help you identify
the path, based on the model-number and serial-number
of your modem.

When I had to update an older USR X2 modem,
the procedure was to send a FAX to them,
requesting the update, and giving my credit-card number.
They couriered me a brand-new USR V.90 modem,
and I could either return my old X2 modem, within 30 days,
or keep it, and my credit-card would be billed
(full-retail price!) for the new modem.
Needless to say, I stuffed my old modem into the box
that held the new modem, and returned it, tout de suite!

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 1147044
Two final comments:
(1) the $40 rebate on the Cardinal Connecta modem
required a purchase before June 30, 1998.
Mail-in rebates must be postmarked by July 20.
(2) Call 3COM (US Robotics) at 1-888-I-WANT-56 (toll-free),
to determine your upgrade path,
i.e., free V.90 upgrades, until 12/31/1998, for any X2 modem
(or 33.6 modem already upgraded to X2);
$US 60, for any 33.6 modem purchased after August 15, 1996.
Or, see:  http://WWW.3COM.COM/56k

Expert Comment

ID: 1147045
Basically, the concept is that someone (at Lucent tech I think) has found out that servers can upload faster than downloading data, therefore the K56 or X2 technology was created. K56 is from Lucent technologies and X2 from 3com but they have two different systems or protocols making it difficult for ISPs to choose. Then came the V90 which standardises these 2 technologies which solves the problem. As far as the modems are concerned just buy a V90 56k modem, or if u had bought one that is K56 flex or X2 then see your vendor or goto their website to update to V90 protocol.

Author Comment

ID: 1147046
Thanks kbp.  I think you have cleared up the confusion for me.
I didn't realize that I was buying a V90 56k modem.  I thought
these two things were mutually exclusive -- I believe I am
getting the type of modem you suggest I buy.

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 1147047
X2 modems receive at up to 56K (or 53K in the USA,
as restricted by law), using US ROBOTICS proprietary method,
when connected to either a US ROBOTICS 'X2' or 'V.90' server.

56K modems receive at up to 56K (same legal restriction),
using Rockwell's proprietary method,
when connected to a 'K56FLEX' server.

V.90 modems receive at up to 56K,
using a communications-standard which combines
the two proprietary methods,
(However, some V.90 modems, e.g., the US ROBOTICS "Sportster"
will use X2 methods when connecting to an 'X2' US ROBOTICS server
which has *NOT* been upgraded to the 'V.90' standard.)



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