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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CC 98-27 COMMON CARRIER ACTION September 16, 1998

FCC Proposes to Eliminate Barrier to Modem Speed
(CC Docket No. 98-163)

The Commission today asked for comment on a proposal that would allow consumers to download information from the Internet more quickly. If adopted, the proposal would permit digital 56 kilobits per second (kbps) modems to operate at higher power levels downstream, thereby providing moderately higher speeds from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to the consumer. FCC rules limiting the amount of signal power that can be transmitted through the telephone network currently inhibit such products from operating at their full potential.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released today, the Commission proposed to improve the transmission rates experienced by users of high speed digital information products by relaxing the signal power limitations contained in Part 68 of its rules. The Commission believes these signal power limitations can be relaxed without causing interference or other technical problems, and it asked for comment on any benefits and harms that may result from this change. If adopted, the proposal would allow 56 kbps Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) modems, which are used by ISPs and other online information service providers to transmit data, to operate at higher signal powers and, therefore, transmit data at somewhat higher speeds to consumers. While the proposed modification may produce only moderate improvements in the actual performance of these modems, the Commission intends to remove impediments to faster data transmission where it finds that the public interest will be served by doing so.

Today's proposal stems from the Commission's 1998 biennial regulatory review. In this case, the Commission examined its Part 68 rules, enacted more than two decades ago. These rules set technical parameters for the signals generated by equipment attached to the telephone network to ensure that those signals do not cause harm to the network.

Action by the Commission, September 8, 1998, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-221). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing a separate statement.


News media contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 418-0253.
Common Carrier Bureau contact: Vincent Paladini or Anna Gomez at (202) 418-2320.
TTY: (202) 418-2555.