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TECHNOLOGY | BRIEFLY

Software Glitch Holds Up Rockwell Modems

March 15, 1997|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rockwell International Corp. suffered a setback Friday in its race to bring a new computer modem technology to market, as company officials said that software problems are expected to cause a delay of up to two weeks in shipments of the new product. Rockwell is already a few weeks behind its chief rival in the market, Illinois-based U.S. Robotics, which recently began shipping new modems based on technology that competes with Rockwell's. The two companies are battling for control of a potentially lucrative market for modems that can download text and images from the Internet, or any other computer source, at almost twice the speeds of existing modems. The new modems are supposed to be able to receive data at 56 kilobits per second, but modems based on Rockwell's technology were 10% to 15% slower in tests, said Dwight Decker, president of Rockwell's Semiconductor Division in Newport Beach. Decker downplayed the problem, saying it is a software glitch that could be fixed within a week. Some analysts said Rockwell has suffered a number of setbacks in recent months that loosen its grip on the market. America Online, the world's largest online service, said months ago it would support U.S. Robotics' technology. And just a few days ago, Hayes, a top modem brand and longtime Rockwell supporter, said that it would build modems using U.S. Robotics' technology. Rockwell controls about 70% of the market for chips that power modems.

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