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Recent ISDN News & Events

California PUC Rules In Favor of ISDN Consumers

(NEW Nov 20th, 1996)
The ruling is not yet final, but it looks like the judge was more impressed by the consumers' arguments than by Pac Bell's. Here's the preliminary ruling, courtesy of Mr. Kashdan's scanner. Highlights include: Thanks, Judge! Now let's see what happens between now and when the ruling is finalized.

56 kilobits/sec over analog phone lines?

Rockwell and U.S.Robotics have announced modems that can carry up to 56 kilobits/second over ordinary phone lines- as long as the number you're calling has ISDN or a T1 line, and doesn't get converted into an analog line at the other end, and you have a clean digital connection.

It's one more small victory for users, if it works as advertised. Unfortunately, it's not 56k in both directions, and if two people with these modems call each other, they'll only get 28k. That means it's not much good for realtime online games (which is what I work on most of the time).

The trick (for you EE's out there) the modem digitizes at a sampling rate much higher than 56k/sec, so it can happily figure out what happened to the bits from the telco, but since the telco digitizes at 56k/sec, the upstream link is stuck at 28.8 or so.

Native Win95 ISDN Drivers Work... almost

Get ISDN Now logo The ISDN Accelerator Pack is Microsoft's native Win95 ISDN support. I just tried this out with the U.S. Robotics Sportster 128 (aka the ISC Securelink 2). It works great- I didn't have to read the manuals once I found the drivers. A few hints: I was online in five minutes. The latest drivers are stable, except that they hang my machine sometimes when unloading (but I heard from one fellow that this happens sometimes even without ISDN).

SPIDs: the NIUF wants to get rid of 'em, too

NIUF Meeting March 15th, 1996, discussed SPID Simplification

Every other civilized country has abolished SPIDs as a form of punishment, and the NIUF's March 13-15 meeting will host a panel on the subject:
On Friday March 15, 1996 at the NIUF Versions Working Group a panel of experts representing the Regional Bell Operating Companies, AT&T Network Systems, Ericsson Network Systems, Nortel, Siemens Stromberg-Carlson, and Bellcore reported on proposed simplifications for the SPID. The meeting included technical presentations on the following proposals:
  1. A Generic SPID Format,
  2. Assignment of Feature Keys to Default TSP (Non-Initializing Terminals), and
  3. A process for Automated SPID Selection. There was also a presentation entitled Taming the Beastly SPID ; see the meeting agenda for details.
    This overlaps with a similar effort by AT&T Network Systems, 3Com, Ascend, and U.S. Robotics announced in January. I think everyone wants to see this happen; the only question is, will it happen before ADSL or cable modems make ISDN moot?

    SPIDs are not the only configuration problem. Why do ISDN devices need any configuration? Even entering in the telephone number is too much- you don't have to do that for a 28.8 modem.

    New Bandwidth On Demand Add-on for PPP: BACP

    A group of vendors has proposed an interoperable way to get everyone's PPP products to agree how to add and drop channels to handle changing load. Many products have been able to do this, but only when calling another unit of the same type. This is a big step forward for PPP. For the gory details, read "Draft PPP Bandwidth Allocation Control Protocol (BACP)".

    Fascism Alert!

    The FBI recently revealed that it plans to spend $500 million to equip phone companies to allow tapping of 0.25% of all phone lines in the country on short notice. They claim they won't tap any more lines than they do now, about 1000 a year. That's about $50,000 per wiretap, if the equipment lasts 10 years. Seems like an incredibly expensive way to catch crooks to me, and a serious temptation for whoever's in power to tap 250,000 or so phones. That would be enough to listen in on all the politicians in the country.... or all the journalists...
    Find out more about the FBI's plans, and decide for yourself whether this massive increase in wiretapping capacity is a good idea. If you think the FBI is going too far, start calling talk shows and writing senators!
    You can learn more about the FBI's efforts at VTW's BillWatch (volume #24) or by visiting the Center for Democracy and Technology.

    Microsoft Announces Win95 Support For ISDN

    You can read their press release here, which promises "Windows 95 ISDN drivers will be available on-line for free download in the fourth quarter of 1995." A web page with details for developers is promised soon. Until then, you can read the page at CICAT on how Win95 supports ISDN internally.

    Flat Rate vs. Metered Pricing

    To follow the heated discussion about the changes in Bell Atlantic ISDN pricing, check out Issues Concerning Pricing of ISDN Services.

    US West is now proposing to triple their flat rate price; see ISDN Tariff News.

    The FCC also has a few tidbits on ISDN charges. (Updated address)

    One man's view of GTE's Florida Tariff

    ISDN TA's break the $300 price barrier in US!

    Psst! Think twice about spending more than $275 for a BitSurfr; seems like Motorola must have lowered prices on the non-Pro Bitsurfr. Retail chains seen offering ISDN equipment in California so far include Egghead, Fry's, and CompUSA. A mail-order house or two and a few smaller stores carry it, too.

    One caveat: although the latest BitSurfr firmware supports Win95, there's said to still be a glitch with Win95 Plus support.

    One place that quotes a good price on the Bitsurfer is NECX; not sure if it's in stock, though. Here's their catalog section for ISDN Terminal Adapters.

    Frame Relay Page

    Businesses will be interested in the page of Frame Relay Resources that Steve Neil at Motorola has put together. Frame Relay is a sister technology to ISDN, often used by businesses instead of ISDN. It is more oriented towards WAN's than casual dialup use.
    HTML 2.0 Checked!
    Author: Dan Kegel <dank@alumni.caltech.edu>

    Copyright 1995 Dan Kegel. All rights reserved.