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3Com to debut Net gear

The networking hardware company will next week introduce a new Ethernet switch and slash equipment prices by up to 25 percent.

The market for lower-cost, Ethernet-based networking hardware that can automatically determine the speed for data traffic is heating up.

With Bay Networks (BAY) and Intel (INTC) already out the door with their 10/100-mbps Ethernet switches, it was only a matter of time before others like 3Com (COMS) followed suit.

Santa Clara, California-based 3Com will announce a new SuperStack II 3000 10/100 switch next week with 12 ports. Prices for the box will be below prices on similar gear from Bay, according to sources. The 3Com box automatically senses whether to switch data at 10 mbps or 100 mbps.

3Com will also announce price cuts of 18 to 25 percent on existing SuperStack II equipment. The reductions are a reaction to aggressive moves by competitors like Intel, which have made it increasingly clear that they will slash prices to gain market share in the Ethernet-based networking gear race.

The new switch continues 3Com's play for a lion's share of the revenue for edge devices, networking gear that feeds data into larger switches and routers from small sites or departments. The new switch will ship this month with 3Com's internetworking software, TranscendWare.