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Networkers agree: More bandwidth

What happens when the heads of the biggest networking firms get together? They agree on just about everything.

TYSONS CORNER, Virginia--What happens when the heads of the biggest networking companies get together in the same room? They agree on just about everything.

At this week's Networked Economy Conference, the leaders of Bay Networks, Cabletron Systems, Cisco Systems, and 3Com came together in a rare joint appearance to discuss the state and evolution of networking in the Internet age.

Executives from the Big Four found consensus in two significant areas: accelerating the adoption of higher bandwidth technologies and accompanying higher bandwidth with policy-based administration and management to keep adding intelligence to growing networks.

All of these comments were made in the context of the explosion of Internet and intranet technologies. As a result, executives feel there is a need for discussion of multimedia and networked applications that can fundamentally change the way people and businesses communicate over a network.

Other networking players who took the stage included Richard McGinn, president and COO of Lucent Technologies, and Desh Deshpande, founder and executive vice president of Cascade Communications.

The discussions' overarching theme was the untapped potential of the Internet for commerce and mission-critical business needs. "This is a prehistoric time [for the Internet]," noted McGinn.

At one point, a minor spat errupted between Craig Benson, president and COO of Cabletron Systems, and David House, the recently hired president, CEO, and chairman of Bay Networks. Benson mentioned that House's view of networking might not be up-to-speed with the rest of the panel due to his recent arrival at Bay Networks from microprocessor kingpin Intel.

House responded that Benson seemed to be "confused." He hammered on his theme that networking hardware is not keeping up with advancements in other areas of computing. Benson disagreed, noting the immaturity of the networking industry puts it in "catch-up" mode to other market segments, such as microprocessors.

Another highlight came when Eric Benhamou, chairman, CEO, and president of 3Com offered his predictions for the year 2000. He says that 50 percent of networking traffic will be multimedia and 90 percent of traffic will pass over intranets.

The conference wraps up tomorrow.