Standard Modem Technology Proved Capable of Extraordinary
Back in the early days of networking--in the 1960s and 1970s--it
was thought that high-speed data communications would require
special data-friendly phone lines: ISDN or some similar service.
It was expected that "ordinary" phone lines used
for POTS would be capable of carrying data transmissions at the
103 standard 300 bits per second, or perhaps at most the V.22bis
standard 2400 bits per second, but no faster.
Yet over the past two decades we have seen a 22-fold increase
in the speed of data transmission obtained over ordinary
This extraordinary 18 percent per year improvement in data-transmission-over-POTS
is not the pace of Moore's Law, but it is very rapid. It allows
everyone with a phone line today the potential to connect at
speeds that 20 years ago it was thought would require expensive,
This tremendous improvement in standard modems has greatly
fueled the growth of the internet. It has allowed the build-out
of the world wide data network on top of the already-existing
It has thus shaved a telephone-equipment generation off of
the time it would have otherwise taken to wire the United States
for the internet.
And looking forward, at least half the phone lines in the
U.S. are suitable for high-speed DSL service. And approximately
three-quarters of the households not suitable for DSL service
are potential customers for cable modems.
Source: Kim Maxwell (1999), Residential
Broadband (New York: Wiley).