Ascend Communications (ASND)
is the latest networking equipment provider to offer ambitious
plans for adding voice and fax capabilities to data-driven networks.
The company formally launched a strategy to incorporate voice and fax
service in IP (Internet Protocol)-based layouts based on its remote access
and wide area switching equipment, as first reported
by CNET's NEWS.COM last month.
Ascend has a large installed base of hardware in a variety of service
providers, considered one of the fastest growing, if unpredictable, markets
within the networking industry. The company hopes to use that strength to
sell hardware and software that supports voice-over-IP (VOIP) and fax-over-IP.
Others, including stalwarts like Cisco
Systems and Bay Networks,
have also articulated intentions of tackling the emerging VOIP market.
The company said the initial phase of the strategy, marked by the rollout
of initial products, will be followed by two more elements that encompass
ATM (asynchronous transfer mode)-based voice and fax schemes and
interoperability of IP-based services across IP, ATM, and Frame Relay-based
layouts, as well as integration with SS7 systems which are used by
As part of the rollout, Ascend announced a number of enhancements, including:
A new version of its remote access concentrator hardware, called the MAX
6000, that provides up to four T1 or E1 lines worth of modem or ISDN
access. The new box offers a threefold increase in data transmission
speeds, according to the company. All existing modem cards will work in the
new addition to the MAX line, which is shipping now, with prices starting
A new application called the MultiVoice Gateway and accompanying
management software to facilitate VOIP communications, which will ship next
month. The new package can support concentrator densities of up to 96 ports
per chassis, with plans to offer a total of 672 ports of support in the
future. Pricing starts at $677 per port.
New capabilities for its IP Navigator software that allows an
administrator to implement quality-of-service over IP-based layouts.
The new functions build on the software's previous ability to add routing
capabilities in wide area switching devices. The feature will be part of
the next release of IP Navigator, due by the middle of this year.