Soon, Modems With Muscle

Fast new models capitalize on digital phone lines. But some roadblocks remain

The World Wide Web has given us an insatiable appetite for faster communications. Alas, the solutions--cable modems, high-capacity phone lines, or satellite links--are still a ways off. But modem manufacturers have found a way to tweak one last burst of speed out of the phone system. Early next year, you'll be able to get a modem, probably for around $200 or less, that will let you receive data from the Internet at 56 kilobits per second (kbps), about twice today's top speed.

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