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Pan-Europe modem standard could cause trouble

Standards harmonisation is outpacing the PTTs, claims TDK

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The new pan-European standard for modem approvals could cause major problems for users in some countries, says PC Card modem supplier TDK Systems Europe. The standard is intended to harmonise approval standards across the EU, but it appears to be running ahead of similar harmonisation among national PTTs. The CTR-21 standard was developed by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), and published last month, so it's now possible for suppliers of non-voice telecoms equipment to gain Europe-wide CTR-21 approval. TDK says it has already done so for two of its products. CTR-21 is intended to run alongside existing national approval systems for a transitional period, after which it will become the only applicable approval standard. But the problem, says TDK, is that simple CTR-21 approval, and no more, doesn't guarantee that modems will work everywhere. In fact, it could mean that they definitely won't work in some countries. CTR-21 doesn't include pulse dialling, although there are still areas of Europe where this is used. And it also stipulates a response to ring signals higher than that generated by many Swiss exchanges, so a CTR-21 compliant modem probably couldn't answer calls in Switzerland. Which means it will still be necessary for modem manufacturers to take local factors into account when designing modems suitable for all European countries. Says Nick Hunn, product development manager of TDK Systems Europe: "We welcome the harmonisation [CTR-21] brings. However, while we can now cut through the red tape and introduce products throughout Europe more easily, sadly users are still stuck dealing with the distinct operating idiosyncrasies of Europe's telecommunications networks." ® Click for more stories

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