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Telecom equipment on tap from Cisco

Cisco Systems plans to release new technology to tie older phone networks to the world of data communications, furthering its aim to gain a greater share of the market for telecommunications equipment.

Cisco Systems will soon release new technology to tie older phone networks to the world of data communications, furthering the company's aim to gain a greater share of the market for telecommunications equipment.

Cisco announced plans to ship a new "gateway" device in the first quarter of next year that will grab traffic from older telephone systems and send it to new networks based on Internet technologies.

Cisco's new offering, called the MGX 8260, aims to make its mark in a space dominated by telecommunications products from rivals Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks, as well as from start-ups such as Sonus Networks.

Many carriers have either slashed or scuttled continued investments in older phone switches based on time division multiplexing, or TDM, technology. The transition from the older systems to new Web-based networks reflects the changing needs of customers, according to Cisco executives. Cisco is hoping its collection of Internet technologies that can combine voice and data on one network will serve as an attractive alternative as firms upgrade their networks.

One of the benefits of the new technology is that it can take modem-based phone calls, which often require long connection times, and transfer them to a data carrier's network, said Rob Redford, director of marketing for Cisco's multiservice switching business. The device can also convert traditional voice traffic into packets of data based on Internet protocol, or IP.

Cisco acquired the technology as part of its $400 million acquisition of TransMedia Communications, announced in June.

Time Warner Telecom is currently testing the new network equipment, Cisco executives said. TransMedia previously announced that communications carrier Global Crossing, formerly Frontier Communications, was also testing the company's technology.