With the v.90 protocol, we've been able to push dial-up connections as far as as possible, all the way up to 5.6 kilobytes per second. However, there are still improvements to be made as the successor, v.92, shows us.
The new dial-up specification calls for faster connections, better uploading, and, here's the biggie, data and voice support.
The v.92 spec tries to emulate broadband communications in many ways. It provides a quicker connection to the ISP, making the Internet connection seem "always on." Current modems spend several seconds buzzing and beeping to their host modem, while the new spec promises to make modems buzz and beep a lot less, and connect a lot faster.
Also, upload rates are improved. Using a special technology called Pulse Code Modulation, large file transfers and email attachments coming from the user to the ISP upload faster.
The last major feature of the new specification deals with how modems handle voice calls while someone is online. Current standards dictate that either the phone doesn't ring, the modem disconnects, or a computer program records a voice message. However, with v.92, when an incoming call arrives, the modem suspends itself while someone answers the phone. Once the phone call is over, the modem reactivates. Although this still doesn't allow browsing and talking at the same time, it does makes things less annoying; for instance, if you were downloading a file and the phone rings, today's modem would probably disconnect. But with v.92 enabled modems, the upload would simply suspend and resume as the call ends.
Announced at the end of July, v.92 is picking up rapid support from makers such as Lucent Technologies, Motorola, 3Com, Cisco, and ESS Technologies. And as broadband continues to stumble and not make its way to the majority of households, v.92 may be the technology we need to keep us from going crazy waiting for cable.