NCTC: USR report card not complete

Thu, 12/06/2001 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

So, did U.S. Robotics fudge its grades and get busted? The cable modem newbie said in a news release and interview yesterday that its cable modem had earned an A+ rating and preferred status from the National Cable Television Cooperative.

The association responded today with a stern rebuke and strong statements that only Motorola's SurfBoard 4101 had reached preferred status, and only Motorola, RCA and HighSpeed Surfing cable modems had ever reached its highest endorsements.

U.S. Robotics argues that its release was accurate, save for miscounting NCTC's membership.

"It was a premature release on our part," says Christopher Browne, product manager for U.S. Robotics' cable technology group. "We got excited."

NCTC does have a testing process for products it endorses to its members, but, "We're not CableLabs," says spokesman Daniel Mulvenon. Mulvenon did not return CEDaily's phone calls yesterday regarding the event.

"We were never talking to them (U.S. Robotics) about preferred status," says NCTC Senior VP of Hardware Mark Bishop. NCTC has three tiers of cable modem performance. "We told US Robotics that they fell into the top tier, (but) we didn't say best and we didn't test 100 modems." The organization tests a number closer to "the high twenties," he says.

"We get solicitations all the time from the modem guys," Bishop says. "The first cut are these tests we do," where the modems go out to the membership for performance feedback. "Then we look at the overall package."

Once it passes that initial phase, he says, NCTC takes it to a member committee that gives final approval, including a preferred status. That's when NCTC will endorse a product, Bishop says.

U.S. Robotics modems had not yet gone to the membership committee, Bishop says. Asked whether USR was still in the running, Bishop says, "We're pretty mad at them right now."

Browne says he spoke to NCTC this morning and the organization is "still cool. It was a slap on the wrist for saying it was premature," he says. He agrees that the issue still has to go to the membership committee for business negotiations.


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